Rick Barker’s $10 million renovation of most of the 500 block of Craghead Street is moving along, with the first phase of the project — the Hughes and Venable buildings — on schedule for completion in May.
“It’s going pretty well,” Barker said, then laughed. “Of course, you always hope for faster and less expensive, but you rarely get that as part of a historic restoration.”
The two buildings, which span the current 528-536 street numbers on the block, are being painstakingly restored. The large, yellow-painted blocks on the Hughes building have been taken down so the building structure could be repaired, then replaced in exactly the same order to maintain the building’s historic value.
A few of the blocks were damaged beyond repair, Barker said, and since replacements are no longer made, the contractor created a mold from an existing block and poured new blocks to match.
Barker told the Register & Bee in October he estimates his total investment in the 500 block of Craghead Street will “exceed $10 million.”
Renovating old, historic buildings is more expensive than simply tearing them down and starting over, Telly Tucker, Danville’s director of economic development said.
The building will net four commercial spaces at street level and seven apartments upstairs.
Mark Smith, of Architectural Partners, said each of the apartments will feature unique designs.
“None of them will be the same size of layout,” Smith said. “These apartments are going to be special.”
Three of the four commercial spaces have already been spoken for, Barker said. He confirmed two will be restaurants, but declined to explain what type of restaurants or what the third space will contain.
Smith said storefronts will start going up shortly and work has begun on the 92-space parking lot that will stretch from the rear of the buildings to Lynn Street. The Industrial Development Authority will own the parking spaces and lease some for tenants on Craghead Street, with the remainder being public parking.
Barker said the design for the parking lot and rear of buildings also is being handled carefully, and there will be outdoor seating for the restaurants along the sides of the buildings.
“The landscaping will be pretty special and integrate with what we’re doing with the buildings,” Barker said. “We’re going to expose a creek, which will be a nice natural feature, and provide pockets of green space.”
A dilapidated, 1940s garage — which Barker said he considered demolishing — also will be restored and find new life as storage space for tenants.
While these buildings are on track for the May opening, two others — the Nabisco building and Virginia City Motors building — are being cleaned out and getting prepared for the next phase of reconstruction.
“When this is done, it will be a great urban setting,” Smith said. “All of the buildings will work well together.”
Barker first completed the first floor of 554 Craghead St., the former Piedmont Hardware Building, where he headquartered his company, Supply Resources, in 2015. He said the support he received for the renovation of the Piedmont Hardware Building encouraged him to take on further projects.