Freedom First’s robust Business Banking and Commercial Lending departments worked hard with local developers, business owners, and entrepreneurs to breathe new life into our region through commercial redevelopment of existing properties, often preserving and honoring the buildings’ historical significance to the surrounding community.
Reinvesting In A Thriving Community
In 2018 and 2019, Freedom First financed a number of significant redevelopment projects. For example, the Salem Motor Lofts (pictured above) transformed a long-abandoned storefront in downtown Salem into a mixed-use site of restaurant space and luxury lodgings. The project took care to preserve much of the original building facade, original brick, and exposed beams.
Other projects include the Lancerlot Sports Complex in Vinton, which was a popular ice skating spot until a snowstorm damaged the ice rink in the 1990s. The newly renovated rink serves as the practice facility for the Rail Yard Dawgs and Virginia Tech ice hockey teams, as well as being open to the community for recreation throughout the year.
Roanoke area redeveloper Ed Walker offered his perspective on the importance of community reinvestment through commercial redevelopment. “Someone like me is interested in how we can recycle this building, how we can find new vitality for it,” he says. He explained that each project he undertakes bears the potential for a wide variety of uses depending on the circumstances and needs of the community. He and his team weigh the possibilities of creating an entrepreneurial co-lab, housing, food and beverage, a gym, or a nonprofit community center. Sometimes, the vision includes a mix of two or more of these facility types.
Walker continues, “Those are all the ideas we deal with every day. And that’s all terrific, but it’s meaningless until you find a financial institution like Freedom First that wants to get behind those ideas, that shares those ideas, and is willing to lend its members money in order to facilitate the achievement of that transformation.”
Read more in our 2018-2019 Community Impact Report.