Those driving along U.S. 29 near Liberty University will soon see a major commercial project start to take shape, ultimately bringing new businesses to Central Virginia by 2011.
In a joint partnership with AIG Baker, the university is set to launch the development of infrastructure connecting U.S. 29 with Campus East and paving the way for the Crossroads Colonnade shopping center.
Construction is scheduled to begin July 14 near the airport entrance on U.S. 29. Phase one will conclude with the installation of a four-lane bridge on the east side of the Norfolk-Southern railroad tracks, south of U.S. 460. AIG Baker is then expected to carry on the remainder of the project by early 2010 and finish construction of the retail center the following year.
“The response to the development has been positive and we are anxious to get started on the infrastructure,” said Lee Beaumont, Director of Auxiliary Services.
“In 2006, we started negotiating with [Campbell County] to open up all that land on the east side of the railroad tracks,” stated Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. “It started out as another way to get into campus, and then when we laid it out, we saw that we were creating a really valuable commercial tract. We started talking to developers and to the county and they were interested in making it commercial, too.”
Falwell continued: “It just so happened that at the same time, there was a company from North Carolina planning to build a hotel right across from the airport. The county got all the parties together and said, ‘Hey let’s not work in four different directions here, let’s make it all one project.’ It’s partially paid for by the county, Liberty and the hotel owners.”
During the first several weeks, crews from Burleigh’s Construction, contracted by the university, will start the bulk grading, work to replace an aging waterline along U.S. 29, and extend water service to serve the new hotel and the future shopping center. The Virginia Department of Transportation will also convert the intersection at the airport to a four-way stop. The new bridge will provide an ingress and egress for residents on Mountain Lake Road upon completion.
Falwell believes once the shopping center is complete, it will benefit both the university and Central Virginia.
“It will help keep tuition down because it will be a financial benefit to Liberty and Thomas Road [Baptist Church] when we sell the property, and it will be nice to have all of that next door, too.”