Plans continue developing for 'healthy hub' in Martinsville

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) Farmers markets with locally grown food are becoming more and more popular around the state. Now, Martinsville is wanting to convert a beloved building into what they're calling a 'healthy hub.'

Many people know the building as the Paradise Inn. It once housed great food and lots of dancing.

"We can't have food without the health and I think that's what's really exciting about this as well," Martinsville Zoning Administrator Susan McCulloch said.

The building has sat vacant for about 30 years. According to city officials, many memories were made there.

"They danced up a storm. They had fun. They ate. They were with their friends and community members and it's remembered with fondness," McCulloch said.

Now, people want to see it revitalized. The city wants to convert the basement into a kitchen, the first floor into a farm to fork restaurant and the top floor into office spaces and meeting areas for the public to use. The city does not own the building yet.

"We have to have a plan, a financial plan and all the construction ideas. Everything has to be known before we could acquire it," says McCulloch.

Those plans are in the works. The main point the city wants to get across, with the help of the CDC, is that this is important for this area of Martinsville, which is considered a food desert.

"I think what we eat is a reflection of how healthy we are, so the more healthy and fresh food we can eat, the more healthy of a lifestyle we can live," Martinsville CDC chairperson James Hagwood said.

They also have plans of converting the lot across the street, which they do own, into a greenhouse and community garden. The architects and designers of Renaissance Planning have three months to submit an action plan to the city before they can move forward with the project.

There is no time frame in mind for the project at this time.