There’s good news and then there’s really outstanding news. Today, we’re thrilled to announce some really outstanding news for the Smith Mountain Lake community.
The Grand Home Furnishings building at Westlake Corner is for sale.
What does that mean for Smith Mountain Lake residents and those who visit our beautiful region?
It could mean a facility that provides opportunities for education, entertainment, tourism and business is on the verge of becoming a reality.
Who is behind the SML Center and what’s the Grand Plan?
We’re the Smith Mountain Lake Center, Inc. (SMLC), a fully incorporated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with an active, engaged 12-member board.
The “Grand Plan” is our intent to purchase the vacant Grand Home Furnishings building, conveniently located on Virginia 122 at Westlake Corner (across from Kroger).
The cavernous, 40,000-square-foot facility already has the infrastructure in place we need, as well as 135 paved parking spaces (expandable to 200-225).
Here’s the best news of all for the proposed SML Center
The Grand Building is available for us to purchase at an attractive price due to the generosity of the Bennett family, owners of Grand Home Furnishings.
The Grand Plan is a tremendous opportunity to locate the SML Center in a well-suited, existing building, thus bypassing the complexities, uncertainties, delays and ever-increasing costs of building from the ground up.
How soon could the SML Center start operating?
Purchasing the Grand Home Furnishings building would mean the SML Center could start providing events and programming in a fairly timely manner.
Plans have already been drawn up to equip spaces for large receptions (including a caterer’s station), music and drama performances, as well as classrooms and meeting spaces for business, clubs and organizations.
Potential space for multiple retail tenants — think cafe, visitor information station/display, souvenir shop, etc. — has also been included to attract regular daily traffic.
Bottom line: We’re confident the SML Center could be up and running, ready to host activities, less than a year after purchase!
How might the SML Center be used in the future?
Here are examples of the type of programming SML Center could accommodate:
- Higher education, continuing education, lifelong learning, career and technical training, workforce development, K-12 learning support
- Performing arts, entertainment (concerts, plays, dances, etc.)
- Tourism events
- Meeting/gathering space for clubs, organizations and businesses
- Space for lease to “retail” tenants
- Social gatherings, wedding receptions, public and private events
- Health and wellness activities
Anyone who has attempted to find suitable space for events like these in the past knows how much a flexible, purpose-designed space like the SML Center is needed!
In fact, we conducted an extensive needs assessment survey in 2018 that revealed strong support by residents of Franklin and Bedford counties for a multi-purpose center at SML.
What’s the next step for the SML Center?
The dream of a community center for SML has been percolating for more than a decade. The availability of the Grand Home Furnishings building puts it within reach of becoming a reality.
Of course, that’s if we can purchase the property at or below the attractive asking price. It’s imperative we act fast as the property is on the commercial real estate market and could be purchased by another business or organization.
Between funds from Vicki’s Vision (acquired through donations following of the tragic shooting at Bridgewater Plaza in August 2015) and commitments-in-hand from generous donors, the purchase is approximately 25 percent funded.
Help make the Grand Plan a reality
Here are some simple ways you can get behind this project:
- Let local organizations you’re involved with know about the proposed SML Center and see how they can help.
- Volunteer! If you are a marketer, grant writer, event organizer, public speaker or would like to become active on a wide variety of committees, reach out to us at smlcenter.org/contact.
- Make a pledge. Donations large and small are needed to help fund the purchase of The Grand Building. Use the form at smlcenter.org/contact.
- Tell friends about the SML Center and encourage them to get involved.
- Join us on Facebook at facebook.com/smithmountainlakecenter to keep up with all the latest developments.
Now is the time to act. Together, we can turn this much-needed dream into a reality!