Danville officials joined developers and community members in ushering in a new era in downtown Monday evening with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the new Danville Hotel Town Center.
Private developer Castle Companies constructed the town's newest downtown destination by replacing rundown buildings near the historic Danville Hotel with modern restaurant space, storefronts and second-floor residential units at the corner of Hartz and West Prospect avenues.
"We are excited to have this new retail and restaurant presence in the heart of our downtown to serve the needs of our residents, attract visitors and support our current retailers and downtown businesses," Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said in a statement Tuesday.
The project also involved renovating and preserving the hotel and McCauley House, both of which date back to the 1890s. The two buildings were officially declared town heritage resources by the Town Council in October.
"Preservation of the historic McCauley House and Danville Hotel underscore the importance of retaining our community heritage, while the new buildings present pleasing, pedestrian-friendly facades along Hartz Avenue, Prospect Avenue and Railroad Avenue," Calabrigo added.
Some stores are already operating in new Danville Hotel Town Center retail spaces while other spots haven't yet opened for business. The status of the 16 residential units upstairs wasn't immediately clear, but the ribbon-cutting included tours of some of the living spaces.
"The completion of the Danville Hotel project has brought an added excitement to the community. The project offers a unique mix of residential and commercial space, bringing modern urban living to the heart of historic downtown Danville," said Shelley Despotakis, president of the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Despotakis said she thinks all downtown merchants and restaurants will "benefit from the added foot traffic and shoppers that the Danville Hotel project is creating."
Representatives from Castle Companies were on hand for the ribbon-cutting, but they did not respond to requests for comment as of Tuesday night.
"Dedication of the Danville Hotel project caps a process that was over a decade in the making," Calabrigo said. "This process saw several design iterations before arriving at the ultimate solution, which was extensively vetted, had to meet the town's rigorous planning, design and historic preservation standards, and finally, weather a significant economic downturn."
Construction on the project began with demolition at the site in January 2014. The removed structures -- dubbed the Wild West buildings -- dated back to the 1950s, but they deteriorated and became rundown over recent years.
The developers replaced nearly 14,400 square feet of previous retail, office and restaurant space with more than 34,500 square feet of new restaurant locations, storefront spots and residential units.