Grange money ‘set aside’ for now

Published 12:56 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Public money Smithfield voted to allocate to the now-scrapped Grange at 10Main development will be “set aside for now,” according to Town Manager Michael Stallings.

The Town Council voted last October to commit up to $1.4 million toward a building that would have anchored the 304-home mixed-use development and housed the town’s farmers market, a restaurant and retail space.

Roughly 17 months prior to the 2022 vote, the council had voted to sell town-owned land at Washington and James streets to Grange developer Joseph Luter IV’s holding company, LSMP LLC, for a smaller, eight-home development. Luter agreed to a purchase price of $225,000 conditioned on the town using the money to extend Main Street’s brick sidewalks to the Grange. The contract included a written provision obligating the town to “use the sale proceeds for the construction of brick sidewalks and other improvements along Main Street in the Historic District.”

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Luter asked to withdraw his zoning application for the Grange on Sept. 6, a day after the council for the second month in a row postponed voting on the proposed 304-home mixed-use development.

Isle of Wight County is working on an overlapping sidewalk project slated to begin construction in 2024. It will extend Main Street’s sidewalks from its 400 block to Westside Elementary. As of early 2022, the county sidewalk project was estimated at $1.5 million, to be largely funded with grant money.

Also in the works is an $8.4 million project to add through and turn lanes to the Route 10 and Main Street intersection. The project is county-administered but funded through Smart Scale, a Virginia Department of Transportation formula that allocates state money based on a project’s cost versus regional benefit.

Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson told The Smithfield Times in August that the final outcome of the Grange would be “incorporated as necessary” as the two projects move forward.