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Exclusive: Interview with Radford University's president on future campus development

(WDBJ)
Published: Oct. 24, 2019 at 11:22 PM EDT
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Two big projects are on the horizon for Radford University, and they are going to change the way folks on campus and in the community utilize the school’s facilities.

Friday, Radford University President Brian Hemphill announced two big developments that are part of the school’s 2020-2030 Master Plan during his annual state of the university address.

“When you think about the importance of economic development, the importance of jobs, this is going to create something very special for Radford," Hemphill said in an exclusive interview to WDBJ7. “You’re going to need those types of amenities here to be able to meet those needs. We’re just truly honored that we can be a partner here in the New River Valley and really making a difference.”

For the past year, a committee has been working on a plan to bring a world-class, multi-story hotel across the street from the university, something that has never been an option. It will be located at the corner of Calhoun St. and Tyler Ave.

Right now, there are only a handful of hotels about a mile down the road from the university.

The new hotel will feature a rooftop restaurant with a bird’s-eye view of campus and a conference center.

“It’s important for us to look at the quality of their experience when they’re here. Having a world-class hotel with a conference center I think is going to be pretty amazing for all of our guests and visitors," Hemphill said.

Another big project the school is taking the lead on is development of the riverfront in an effort to brand the university as a river campus.

With this development will come a boardwalk, river access for outdoor recreation, a riverfront restaurant, an amphitheater and a zip-line. Changes will also be made to traffic along University Dr. and a new bridge to connect it all.

“We have this beautiful natural resource right here on our campus, and I think it’s an underutilized resource," Hemphill said. “We’re just excited about what the development will mean and developing us in more of a riverfront campus, and using this amazing natural resource that we have.”

The university has partnered with the city and Radford University Foundation to make this all possible.

The hotel would likely be complete between 2022-2023. It is estimated between $20 million and $25 million. The hotel project is a public-private partnership. No state funds will be utilized. A hotel brand has not been selected but will be announced soon.

The riverfront development project will likely take about five years to complete in increments. It is estimated at $10 million with the amphitheater expected to be finished first. It is a public-private partnership. The university said a variety of funding sources will be utilized.

Currently, there are buildings located on the property that will become the hotel and conference center. The university said they are owned by the Radford University Foundation and they will be demolished for this project.

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