Hotel project wins awardBy Clara B. Cox
Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 10 - October 26, 1995
The Virginia Municipal League (VML) has presented the City of Roanoke with its 1995 President's Award for Entrepreneurial Government, VML's top honor, for the city's work with Virginia Tech, businesses, and civic and neighborhood organizations on the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center project.
"The city was selected for its spirited and effective community-wide campaign to re-open the Hotel Roanoke as a first-rate accommodation and conference center, while preserving the integrity of an adjacent historic neighborhood," VML reported in Virginia Town & City, the organization's official magazine. The award was announced in the September issue of the magazine and was presented at the VML annual conference on October 10 in Virginia Beach.
Judges for VML's Achievement Awards competition, which includes six categories, were Brackenridge H. Bentley, former town manager of Front Royal and Vienna and an active member of VML; Milton K. Brown Jr., a director in the Richmond law firm of Coates & Davenport who has served as deputy attorney general of Virginia and director of the state Department of Commerce; and John V. Moeser, a professor of urban studies and planning at Virginia Commonwealth University and co-author of a recently completed book on black communities in the urban South.
"Innovative partnerships involving a state university, a municipality, the business community, the media, civic and neighborhood organizations led to the restoration of a Virginia landmark and, with it, the development of a conference center and the protection of a historic African-American neighborhood.
"The result of the genuine community-wide effort is a beautiful conference facility adjoining a gem of a hotel and a renewed sense of regional pride. Any outfit that can raise six million bucks in 45 days deserves to be rated tops. Almost anyone who has visited the new/old hotel and new conference center would have to admit that the undertaking was of immense value to the city," the judges commented.
Virginia Town & City ran a feature article on the project, saying the story of the project "is about a unique set of partnerships" that "faced formidable challenges while putting together this important project." The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center project got under way in 1989 when Norfolk Southern Railway gave the historic hotel to Virginia Tech. The city joined forces with the university to help realize visions each had for the facility. Funds for the $40.6-million project were raised with the help of Renew Roanoke Foundation, a private, not-for-profit community organization wanting the project to succeed.
VML received nearly 100 entries for the six categories of its competition.