Plan for old BMS site not expected until fall
Blacksburg can expect to wait several more months to see specific plans for improving a former schoolyard downtown.
The Old Blacksburg Middle School project, involving about 20 acres fronting Main Street, has been called one of the most important redevelopment efforts in Blacksburg and Montgomery County.
Montgomery County, whose school system owns most of the land, last year agreed to sell one piece to local advertising firm Modea Corp. and a second, larger piece to the builder-investor team Fiddler’s Green Partners LLC. Members of Fiddler’ Green include Blacksburg lawyer James
Cowan and Jeanne H. Stosser, president of SAS Builders Inc.
Modea announced a vision to build a $10 million headquarters on its piece. Fiddler’s Green in October announced what it said would be a mixed-use development on the site – a project said to be worth a total of $35 million to $40 million.
Municipal officials once expected to see specific plans by late May. Officials now expect one joint plan to be filed this fall, said Brian Hamilton, Montgomery County’s economic development director.
“It is going slower than we had hoped,” Hamilton told the board of the county Economic Development Authority last Tuesday.
Hamilton reiterated the county’s support for the project.
Cowan, who represents both Modea and Fiddler’s Green, could not be reached for comment.
The site has history. A school stood there from 1952 until it was razed last summer. Blacksburg leaders, after taking community input, agreed they want to see the land redeveloped with retail, office, housing and open space with striking design and architecture. A town-approved master plan calls for a variety of high-quality improvements tied into downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
Modea and Fiddler’s Green agreed to conduct a long list of pre-sale preparations during due-diligence periods that expired this past spring, on March 31 and on April 30, respectively. But they have yet to complete the preparations, a key element of which was to submit specific development plans for review through the town’s rezoning process.
Asked about this, Montgomery County spokeswoman Ruth Richey pointed to language in each sales contract that gives Modea and Fiddler’s Green automatic time extensions for due-diligence steps.
Only after rezoning approval are Modea and Fiddler’s Green required by contract language to actually buy the land and hand over payment, which the county intends to use for school purposes. They must do that within nine months after filing for rezoning, Hamilton said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1661
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