Staff writer Matt Chittum has this report today about plans to build an artisan center along Interstate 81 in Rockbridge County, with the intent to create something like Heartwood in Abingdon or Tamarack in West Virginia. (An aside: when I saw this item I couldn’t help but wonder what the folks who tried to save Lexington’s Theater at Lime Kiln from closing, but couldn’t get funding, make of this project. I should note though that the funding for this new project comes from private investors.)
Artisan center planned on I-81 in Raphine area
It will be modeled after Heartwood in Abingdon and Tamarack in Beckley, W.Va.
By Matt Chittum
A group of private investors led by a former Rockbridge county supervisor plans to build an $11 million artisan center in the Raphine area near the landmark White’s Truck Stop.
The planned AWASAW Artisan Center would be located on 8 acres next to the truck stop at Interstate 81 Exit 205, according to a news release from Rockbridge County’s Office of Community Development.
The investors, led by Bobby Berkstresser, expect to have final plans completed in March and begin construction in June, said Brandy Flint of the community development office. The opening is planned for summer 2014.
“We intend for this Center to become … an attractive, must-do gateway to Rockbridge,” Berkstresser said in the news release.
The center would be modeled after Heartwood in Abingdon and Tamarack in Beckley, W.Va., according to the news release, with an eye for promoting local industries including farmers, wineries, artists and craft makers.
Plans include a demonstration area for handcrafts, a “Virginia arts and crafts retail center,” a new Virginia National Guard Museum, a “Taste of Virginia” marketplace for local food and wines, a food court and a tourist information center.
To be built adjacent to a 160-acre business park, the center could draw a half million visitors annually, the investors group projects.