MARTINSVILLE BULLETIN -What will the former Paradise Inn become? With help from residents and local officials, a group of consultants came up with a new idea for the property. But that project is far from becoming a reality.
The two-phase plan for the “Healthy Hub” was created by Renaissance Planning of Charlottesville with help from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials during a “Local Foods, Local Places” workshop Tuesday and Wednesday. About 75 people participated during the two days.
Phase 1 involves redeveloping the dilapidated, three-level historic building on Fayette Street into a facility with a first-floor restaurant serving healthy meals, preferably prepared with fruits and vegetables grown by area farmers. The restaurant would have outdoor deck seating and an entertainment area.
Officials have described Martinsville’s largely minority west side as a “food desert” - a place lacking easy access to fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods because it does not have a full-service grocery store or farmer’s market and/or a restaurant serving healthy foods.
The second floor would have meeting rooms as well as classrooms for public programs pertaining to health living. It also would have offices for upstart businesses.
A restaurant-style kitchen certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be set up in the basement to help people develop businesses involving food production.
The building would retain its brick façade. However, stones now incorporated into the front part of the building would need to be replaced by new brick, said Vlad Gavrilovic, an urban planner who is a principal in Renaissance Planning.
Phase 2 involves expanding the facility into as many as three new buildings that would be erected on an adjacent city-owned site, as well as developing a community garden and a hydroponics center where produce can be grown without soil. Beaver Street could be closed to through traffic, a diagram shows, to make way for parking areas and connecting patios.
Trees and new sidewalks would be part of landscaping improvements.
As part of the first phase, a new structure would be erected on the Paradise’s back side to connect all three floors. Such a connection does not currently exist as the vacant, approximately 6,200-square-foot building has fallen into ruin over the years, officials said.
Due to its relatively small size, though, “the site itself doesn’t lead to expansion,” which would necessitate the use of the city property should the redeveloped Paradise be successful enough to warrant expansion, Gavrilovic said.
Not everyone who attended the workshop was there both days. Those who attended on Wednesday were pleased with the concept plan and applauded the consultants and themselves for their work.
“It’s beautiful,” area resident Kevin Ratliff said of the renderings.
“It makes sense” for the neighborhood, added area resident Billie Coles. “We’re going to do our best to implement this.”