Norton IDA redevelops key commercial complex in city’s downtown

July 13, 2020 | Impact Stories


A four-building complex in the heart of Norton’s main business corridor largely remained empty for many years.

Because location is everything in real estate, the Norton Industrial Development Authority (IDA) purchased the property in 2005, recognizing its business development potential. In 2012, one building was partially renovated to house a weekly indoor farmers’ market, a critical first step in reimagining this location as a “center of gravity” for future business development and social activity.

After making additional modest improvements – including roof replacement and façade improvements on two of the buildings in 2016 and 2017 – an opportunity came along to spark a full renovation and reinvention of this Southwest Virginia complex for contemporary use.

Sugar Hill Cidery wanted to bring a restaurant into the first floor of two of the buildings, while its cider production would use a portion of the third vacant facility allowing for the remainder of the building to be used as a downtown event center. While Sugar Hill would provide a significant investment for equipment and furnishing, the IDA of Norton still needed financial support for the renovation.

Additionally, the IDA is currently developing plans to renovate the second floor of the main building.


Construction loan

The Norton IDA turned to VCC for help with funding the renovation. The construction loan allowed the IDA to proceed with the project by fully funding the renovation cost upfront and using the loan funds as a reimbursement. The loan structure gives the IDA flexibility to repay over a 10-year period at a low fixed rate. Three other local properties owned by the IDA have brought new jobs to the region and continue to be well-managed.


Renovating this complex has brought new vitality to this Southwest Virginia community. The project supports a larger economic initiative to position Downtown Norton as a regional hub for small businesses and jobs, as well as strengthen tourism connections to nearby outdoor recreational activities. More specifically, this aligns with the city’s 2017 Economic Restructuring and Business District Revitalization Plans, as well as regional and statewide business strategies.

Both the renovation project and the resulting new tenants have created new jobs, while the cidery has also brought in freshly prepared foods to this underserved region. It will serve as a catalyst for future private investment as well.