The City of Danville has been wildly successful in its efforts to revitalize its downtown and Tobacco Warehouse District under the umbrella of the River District, which includes a plethora of new apartment and condo developments resulting from the redevelopment of former tobacco warehouses, predominantly located along Craghead Street. Throughout that time, Martinsville has generally lagged behind in urban housing amenities. But that is changing, and very quickly.
The year 2015 marked the first luxury housing development in uptown Martinsville, with the redevelopment of the former Henry Hotel, located along East Church Street into 25 apartments. Since that time, however, multiple housing developments have begun taking place in the City, which include the following:
Aaron Mills Apartments
Aaron Mills Apartments is being developed at 201 and 209 Aaron Street by the Landmark Group, and will be located in a historically industrial area south of uptown on the site formerly occupied by American Furniture. This new construction will serve as senior housing, offering 52 one and two-bedroom apartments.
Chief Tassel Building
The historic Chief Tassel Building, located at 51 East Church Street uptown, is proposed to be redeveloped as part of a mixed-use project. Included as part of the redevelopment would be 18 residences, as well as commercial space on the ground floor. The project is being administered by Waukeshaw Development. Recent correspondence with a City staff member indicated that 21 residential units would now be provided.
Fairy Street Townhouses
Lester Group, Inc. plans to construct three townhouses along Fairy Street near its intersection with Watt Street. The three townhouses would result in the development of up to 13 residential units, with up to five in one structure and four in each of the other two.
BB&T Bank transferred its 5-story building, located at the corner of East Church Street and Ellsworth Street, to the City of Martinsville, which is working with a developer to redevelop the structure into 50 residential apartment units that are anticipated to be available for rental later this year or sometime in 2023. Recent correspondence with a City of Martinsville staff person revealed that 57 residential units are now planned, with early phase completion in 2023 or 2024.
62 Fayette Street
This structure which once housed a Winn-Dixie supermarket, located near the intersection of Fayette Street and Moss Street, is planned to be converted into 26 loft apartments. In addition, commercial “maker spaces” are planned for the project which will soon be under development by a developer with experience developing such residential projects in the Roanoke area. Construction on this project is anticipated to begin during summer of this year.
Five Points Development
A number of pre-fabricated homes have recently been placed at a site along West Church Street near its intersection with Memorial Drive (U.S. 220 Business) west of uptown. As part of a project to develop affordable housing in Martinsville through a $500,000 grant provided by Virginia Housing, a total of 27 units of housing is being developed along West Church Street near Endless and Emanuel Streets. Martinsville-based Nationwide Homes is constructing the housing, the first phases of which consist of up to 12 units of new single-family cottage-like homes. After those phases are complete, a 15-unit townhouse project will be developed nearby. The homes are targeted to those earning $17 to $20 per hour.
Benefits of living downtown or near downtowns
Developments in or near central business districts generally serve two purposes for communities. First, they help revitalize these districts, which had historically served as commercial and cultural centers of cities and towns. New residential developments in and around these areas generate demand for dining, entertainment, retail, health care, financial, and other services, resulting in even greater opportunities for rehabilitation and added vitality in a community’s core.
Second, and a fact that we at RIDE Solutions recognize and promote, is that residential and non-residential developments within close proximity to one-another in business districts render multiple modes of transportation feasible. For instance, if one lives and works in or near uptown Martinsville, home and work could easily be accessed on foot. Similarly, retail establishments located at the Village of Martinsville shopping center are a short walk from many locations in and adjacent to uptown. With increased residential development, bicycling also becomes a very feasible means of transportation, both in and around the uptown area. The Dick & Willie Passage Trail, which accesses uptown via a spur, is an excellent resource for bicyclists wishing to ride either as a means of transportation to other areas of the City or Henry County, or just to ride recreationally. Uptown is also well-served by Piedmont Area Regional Transit’s (PART’s) Martinsville and Southside Routes, with access to the Collinsville Route via a transfer at Walmart.
If you choose to live in uptown Martinsville or in the immediate periphery, multiple transportation options can offer benefits both to you and the environment. The ability to walk or bike where you want to go is a great way to both stay in shape without having to go to the gym and to save gas money and wear and tear on your vehicle. Additionally, fewer vehicular trips reduce the amount of air pollution – including greenhouse gases – being emitted into the atmosphere, reduce the amount of traffic congestion, and improve roadway safety by eliminating vehicular trips.
If you live in or near one of the region’s cities or towns, and you use transit, walk, bike, or carpool to work or to another destination, or if you telework, you will earn discounts on shopping, dining, entertainment, and services, or you will have the opportunity to enter raffles just by logging your trips into the RIDE Solutions app. If you don’t have the app, download it for free today by visiting www.ridesolutions.org!
 Wyatt, Bill. “Watch Now: Construction is underway on apartment complex on former American of Martinsville property.” Martinsville Bulletin. January 19, 2021. https://martinsvillebulletin.com/news/local/watch-now-construction-is-underway-on-apartment-complex-on-former-american-of-martinsville-property/article_96b34ab0-59e7-11eb-9e54-c3b2ad4fbaea.html.
 Martin, Brandon. “Housing Authority moves to redevelop Chief Tassel Building.” Martinsville Bulletin. May 22, 2020. https://henrycountyenterprise.com/housing-authority-moves-to-redevelop-chief-tassel-building/.
 Martin, Brandon. “Housing Authority moves to redevelop Chief Tassel Building.” Martinsville Bulletin. May 22, 2020.
 “The Latest in UPtown Martinsville.” Martinsville, Henry County, VA Blog (Official Tourism Site for Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia). May 12, 2021. https://www.visitmartinsville.com/blog/the-latest-in-uptown-martinsville.
 Wyatt, Bill. “Five Points is beginning to look like a neighborhood.” Martinsville Bulletin. November 16, 2021. https://martinsvillebulletin.com/news/five-points-is-beginning-to-look-like-a-neighborhood/article_a0095532-4703-11ec-ab0b-c7ad29fee8df.html.