Several businesses are seeing the demand for their services rise in Franklin County’s fast-growing Smith Mountain Lake area and have chosen Westlake Towne Center to open new locations.
The Moneta development’s newest additions include a brewery, medical offices and a medical lab. The development’s corporate ownership also is trying to bring at least one restaurant to the center.
“We’ve seen renewed growth,” said Lee Willard, vice president of corporate holdings for The Willard Companies , which owns the 200-acre development on Virginia 122.
He attributes the growth to a better economy and an increasing population, especially retirees.
The 2010 census showed a 19 percent increase in population in Franklin County from the 2000 census, to 56,411 from 47,286.
That increase has gotten the attention of businesses interested in meeting the needs of the growing community, Willard said.
“It’s really become a vibrant area,” Willard said. “People don’t need to leave to go to Roanoke. [The center] has really become a self-sufficient development.”
Anchor businesses include a 75,000-square-foot Kroger and Westlake Cinema, a four plex movie theater.
Westlake’s newest attraction is Sunken City Brewing Company . The $2.3 million brewery, named for the villages that were flooded to create the lake, is in a newly constructed 8,800-square-foot building. It includes a 25-barrel, four-vessel brew house with a tasting room and pub, retail store and beer garden. The brewery has an automatic canning system.
Sunken City is producing two beers, Dam Lager and Red Clay IPA.
Brewery owner Jerome Parnell said he chose to build his brewery at Westlake because it was the only site at the lake that had all the utilities he needed, including treated water and a sewer system.
He also liked the location.
“I wanted to be a destination at a destination,” Parnell said. “Westlake Towne Center is the epicenter of the retail traffic at the lake.”
He estimated last week that the brewery, which opened May 10, had already attracted more than 1,000 visitors.
Another area of growth at the center is the medical field. Carilion Clinic has opened several offices at Westlake and is about to complete living quarters for the crew of the Life-Guard 10 helicopter, which has a hangar at Westlake.
“It’s almost as though Carilion has created a campus in the back of our shopping center,” Willard said.
Among Carilion’s newest offices is VelocityCare , which provides urgent care. Carilion also has recently added orthopedics and podiatry practices. In addition, Carilion has an internal medicine practice, an imaging center, a sleep lab and specialists, including cardiolog ists.
Bill Jacobsen , hospital administrator at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital and vice president at Carilion Clinic, said it was a “no-brainer” to locate the offices at Westlake.
“It was the fastest growing area of our county, and we needed to respond to the needs of our citizens,” he said.
Other medical offices have recognized the demand as well.
Physicians to Children, which has an office in Roanoke, last fall opened a satellite office at Westlake, and Vistar Eye Center opened an office at Westlake in May.
Solstas Lab Partners also has opened at Westlake, and Home Instead Senior Care is opening an office there this month.
Willard anticipates attracting more new businesses. He is trying to recruit a day care center to accommodate the center’s 400 employees and nearby residents, and also is in talks with three restaurants, which he declined to name. The development had a hard time attracting restaurants when it was built because it was using well water and septic systems. Franklin County has since become a member of the Western Virginia Water Authority, which has extended water lines into the county, including at Westlake.
Also in the column, Super Kicks, a martial arts studio, has moved to the Shoppes at West Village in southwest Roanoke County, and an antiques and collectibles store has opened on Williamson Road.