TAZEWELL, VA – APRIL 30, 2021 — An up to $100,000 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund was closed recently for the Town of Tazewell Industrial/Economic Development Authority to be used to help advance the development of a short-stay lodging facility in downtown Tazewell.

The new project seeks to develop the former Sunnyside Manor apartment complex, which is just a short distance away from the Back of the Dragon Welcome Center, into a 12-unit short-stay lodging property with 34 beds. Plans call for the town to lease the facility to Dragon Property Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Back of the Dragon Properties.

“The Industrial/Economic Development Authority of the Town of Tazewell had been looking for some time to develop a hotel or short-stay lodging facility in the downtown area,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The Sunnyside location is just a short distance from the Back of the Dragon Welcome Center — which VCEDA helped to finance with a $150,000 loan approved in 2019 — and seeks to capitalize on the tourist traffic generated in the region as visitors come to drive the Back of the Dragon motorcycle and sports car route.”

Funds will be used to finance the purchase of real estate to assist with the development of the project located on Main Street in Tazewell.

The planned renovations to the building include a new roof, new windows, new parking lot, new plumbing and electric, new HVAC, complete exterior paint, new landscaping and complete renovation and redesign of the interior.

“For a number of years, the Town of Tazewell has been actively trying to recruit a hotel to locate within the Town of Tazewell’s political jurisdiction,” said Town of Tazewell Manager Todd Day. “We feel a hotel will, in time, attract additional entrepreneurs and businesses with intentions on capitalizing from the fast growing Back of The Dragon and the wealth it is — and continues to bring — to the Town of Tazewell and the surrounding region. 

“VCEDA is assisting in making this hotel a reality along with the Town of Tazewell Town Council and the Town of Tazewell I/EDA and the CPPDC,” Day continued. “We are thankful to and for Jonathan Belcher and his team for having the good vision to clearly see the potential for such a success and we look forward to seeing the hotel a reality in late 2023.”

“Dragon Property Holdings is very excited about the opportunity to work with the Town of Tazewell and VCEDA on this project,” said Jay Shott, of Back of the Dragon Properties. “We believe without a good lodging facility in Tazewell, it will be hard for us to grow the economy. We also believe that this project will help spur additional lodging opportunities along with other entrepreneurs to look to make investments in our area.”

Shott noted VCEDA’s assistance on the project has been valuable.

“VCEDA is without a doubt one of the top organizations that I’ve had the pleasure of working with — top to bottom, a true group of caring professionals,” Shott said. “VCEDA does an impeccable job of carrying out its mission and I can’t imagine what Southwest Virginia would be without it.”

According to Dragon Properties’ plan, the project will be funded by $1,182,483 in private investment. In addition to the grant from VCEDA, funding is also being sought from other entities. The Cumberland Plateau Planning District (CPPD) has approved a CProp grant of $200,000 for the project.

“The Cumberland Plateau Regional Opportunity Program (CProp) was created as a means of reinvesting revenues received from our broadband network in local economic projects,” said Jim Baldwin, CPPD executive director. “The board of the Cumberland Plateau Company was happy to be able to provide a $200,000 CProp grant to the Town of Tazewell to support the creation of much needed lodging for the many tourists to Back of the Dragon and other local attractions. This investment should greatly enhance the town’s many downtown efforts by allowing more extended stays for those visitors.”

Belcher noted it is estimated the project will generate 10 construction-related jobs and seven full-time jobs within one year.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.