FARMVILLE, Va. — Two Richmond-based developers who have historically targeted multifamily projects in Central and Southwest Virginia have embarked on a new path with the opening of their first hotel. Ross Fickenscher and Garrett Shifflett, owners of Richmond-based Aoss Ventures, last month opened the 70-room Hotel Weyanoke in downtown Farmville, across from Longwood University.
They’ve invested about $12 million to overhaul the property, which was built as a hotel in the 1920s and – when they bought it five years ago from a private owner for $950,000 – had been used most recently as student housing.
“We kept the use for a couple of years, because at the time we didn’t know what to do with the property,” Fickenscher said of the student housing. “We knew that the existing use was unsustainable given the age of the facility and the type of tenants that resided in the building.”
Hotel Weyanoke was one of the largest, most opulent hotel and conference center complexes between Richmond and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at the time of its construction.
Named for the Native American tribe that originally settled the area, Hotel Weyanoke hosted several politicians, celebrities and events, including an annual Lion Club Convention in the late 1920s that featured author and activist Helen Keller. A picture of Keller’s visit remains on display in the hotel.