University to explore public/private partnership for new parking facility

BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 24, 2008 – The Virginia Tech Foundation, at the request of the university board of visitors, is exploring a public/private development to build a parking garage, administrative support space, and graduate or professional housing on a location adjacent to campus off Turner Street. Working with Point West Management, a Blacksburg development group led by long-time resident Bob Pack, the university plans to link the project to the Virginia Tech Arts Initiative.

“We are still in early exploratory phases,” said Ray Smoot, chief operating officer for the Virginia Tech Foundation. “However, we are pleased by the encouragement we have from town government. This project makes a lot of sense. We now have to find a way to make the financials and the needed program space work for all involved.”

In addition to having parking, office space, and possible housing, the project is, technically, a mixed use development and would conform to town zoning standards, which also require retail and commercial applications.

The Arts Initiative is a bold new project, part of which includes The Center for the Arts. The new center will be sited on the land and parking lot adjacent to Shultz Dining Hall. Once construction starts, parking will be displaced and thus, the need for another parking facility on the eastern edge of campus.

The Center for the Arts will include a 1,300 seat state-of-the-art performance hall, art gallery, and the Center for Creative Technologies in the Arts (CCTA), a new university endeavor based on the merger of art and technology. The Center for Creative Technologies in the Arts will focus on research and the development of models and programs working with PK-12 school systems to aid in the development of critical and creative thinking skills leading toward improved learning, success on Standards of Learning exams, and improved retention, and graduation rates. Further, the focus of this work will be on teaching of math, science, social studies, languages, and the arts.

While the financial model for the new parking, commercial, housing, and retail complex is still being developed, university leadership hopes to develop a possible funding stream to support the Arts Initiative. “We know that such a funding stream, possibly to support a visiting artist or performance program, is many years in the future, but this is but one more example of how creative community thinking can help us bring a higher profile presences for the arts to our area,” said Minnis Ridenour, university senior fellow for resource development.