RICHMOND (October 27, 2016) – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the award of a $72,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Growth Fund (VTGF) to assist with the redevelopment of the Lynchburg Historic District Locust Thicket. With the assistance of this grant, the Locust Thicket property will be converted into a Historical Tourism Precinct featuring arts, dining and special events, educational activities, as well as retail and residential spaces. The VTGF grant program, managed by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, was established to grow tourism development projects across the state.
“The development of this new dynamic attraction is an exciting addition to Lynchburg’s overall tourism experience,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Locust Thicket will provide new dining, lodging, and event options for visitors, and will increase the impact of tourism in Lynchburg and the surrounding areas. We will continue to invest in projects that positively contribute to the community and further our efforts in building the new Virginia economy across the Commonwealth.”
“As an instant revenue generator for the Commonwealth, tourism’s continued growth is critical to a diversified economy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Last year, visitors to Lynchburg spent nearly $177 million, which supported more than 1,600 jobs and contributed more than $12 million in state and local taxes. Locust Thicket is a timely and attractive addition for Lynchburg, helping to improve the city’s infrastructure and ability to welcome travelers from around the world.”
Owners Paul Hughes and Sarah Quinn have purchased the Lynchburg Historic District Locust Thicket with the intention of converting the property into a tourism attraction for the City of Lynchburg. Two additional adjoining lots were also acquired to gain access to the property's original ice house and to add substantial car parking capacities to the development. The project, which represents a capital investment of $480,000, will create 14 new jobs and a tax benefit of more than $51,500 in its first full year of operation.
Paul Hughes, Co-Owner of Locust Thicket commented, “Lynchburg has many wonderful tourism-based attractions and museums, particularly those of a historic nature, however none of these existing attractions offer any kind of food or beverage offers. Locust Thicket is an historic attraction with a captivating story over many generations and eras i.e. Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Civil War etc., and it is our goal to share it with the Citizens of Lynchburg as well as visiting tourists by offering a unique dining environment housed within a Lynchburg Historic District.”
Locust Thicket Co-Owner Sarah Quinn added, “The Precinct will provide a range of Arts, Dining and Special Event facilities including a full-service restaurant and bar called The Manor House at Locust Thicket which will incorporate indoor and outdoor dining facilities, specialty events, group and event dining with a focus on locally-sourced products, as well as offering shuttle bus transportation for guests from local hotels and tours to other local and regional tourism attractions as well.”
“Heritage tourism matters. Locust Thicket provides new dining, lodging, and event options for visitors and residents, and will increase the impact of heritage tourism in Lynchburg and the surrounding areas,” said Delegate Scott Garrett. “This type of historical and locally-owned business is indicative of entrepreneurs who make Lynchburg and our entire region, so authentic and appealing.”
“This effort to work with the City of Lynchburg to welcome larger groups of visitors is important to Lynchburg’s tourism vitality,” said Senator Stephen Newman. “This type of local collaboration is an excellent example of resource leveraging in action. The impact these new visitors can have on other local lodging, dining, event, sports and outdoor experiences can be substantial.”
“Through our planning and economic development offices, the City of Lynchburg has worked with Locust Thicket for several years to prepare for the redevelopment of this historic property into a regional attraction and fully functioning food and beverage facility,”said Joan Foster, Mayor of the City of Lynchburg. “These efforts, including the addition of a shuttle bus supported by the Virginia Tourism Growth Fund, will fill a void in the City’s tourism offerings and will continue to showcase Lynchburg as a great place to live, work, play and visit.”
“Locust Thicket has been part of Lynchburg’s history for over 200 years and it is our goal to ensure that it continues to add significant value and jobs to the Lynchburg community for many years to come through a wide range of activities,” added H. Michael Lucado, Chair of the Lynchburg Economic Development Authority. “The project will generate 14 new full-time jobs and revenues from real estate, meals and sales taxes far exceeding incentive dollars within the first three years. The redeveloped Locust Thicket Historic District will be an excellent showcase of the City’s history and a tourism and economic development driver for our region.”
Tourism is an instant revenue generator in Virginia. In 2015, visitors to Virginia spent $23 billion, which supported 223,100 jobs and contributed $1.6 billion in state and local taxes.
About the Virginia Tourism Growth Fund
The Virginia Tourism Growth Fund (VTGF) is a Virginia Tourism Corporation program established to grow tourism development projects to include new or expanded facilities or venues for lodging, recreation, entertainment, epicurean, cultural, or destination retail products or services designed to attract travelers to the Commonwealth. Both non-profit and for-profit private sector businesses are eligible to apply. VTGF grant awards cannot exceed 15 percent of project cost and there is a minimum one to one local match of VTGF grant award. The project must create net new jobs and public financing cannot exceed 30 percent of project cost. For more information on the Virginia Tourism Growth Fund, click here.