MARION, Va. (WJHL) — Almost $3 million in grant funding will allow the Town of Marion to pursue building a new park and adjoining housing development.
It was announced Saturday the town would receive a $1.7 million grant from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the National Park Service for the Callan Drive Recreation Park Development.
But town officials told News Channel 11 they also received $1 million from the latest federal omnibus bill to build a housing development right next door.
Marion Community and Economic Development Director Ken Heath said this would be Marion’s first new housing development in decades.
“We really haven’t had a housing development since the 60s, so this is an exciting time for the town of Marion,” Heath said.
The developments sit on two adjoining parcels of land just outside downtown Marion.
Plans for the housing development include a mix of housing options, including homes, duplexes, senior housing and special section for housing veterans.
The project is still in development, so it is unclear what the total number of units will look like.
Heath said the housing mix was designed with affordability in mind.
“We truly want to meet the needs of every citizen,” Heath said. “We want to help everybody to be able to live what we believe is the American Dream is to own your own home and we can help by helping build the houses to do that.”
Marion Re-Development and Housing Authority Executive Director Charles Harrington said the veteran housing will consist of 24 one and two-bedroom apartments to provide better living for those who served.
“What we hope we will be able to do is reach out to the number of veterans here that don’t have adequate housing, don’t have affordable housing,” Harrington said.
The connecting Callan Drive Recreation Park will include new soccer and softball fields, an enhanced dog park, a walking trail and a new outdoor amphitheater.
Town Mayor David Helms called getting those two major developments partially funded through grants a “once in a lifetime” opportunity,
Helms said the town has invested heavily in its parks and recreation facilities, but this takes things up a notch.
“We’ve always had an excellent recreation program but the facilities, this will improve that so much,” Helms said. “As far as outdoor recreation this is probably the biggest thing we’ve had to happen in a long time.”
Heath said the amphitheater provides some economic development potential too – with the ability to host concerts and other entertainment.
It’s a development that Heath said is indicative of the town’s growth, and it could spur additional growth once completed.
“This will open the door for future development,” Heath said. “It happened in retail. It happened in industrial, and we believe now is the time for it to happen in housing.”
Some preliminary groundwork is already being done at the park site, but Heath expects an official groundbreaking in the fall with work on the housing development coming later.
“As you come to Marion in the next three to five years it’s going to be a very different community,” Heath said.
Both developments require matching funds to be approved by the Marion Town Council. The details are being finalized, but Heath said he expects the park alone to cost around $4 million in total.