Radford University’s exciting hotel project in full swing
Demolition has officially begun to make way for The Highlander, the highly anticipated hotel to be constructed right off Radford University’s main campus.
The project is a joint effort between the University and the Radford University Foundation to bring an upscale, full-service boutique hotel to the area. It will be located at the intersection of Tyler Avenue and Calhoun Street, where four existing structures are currently being demolished.
According to Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Chad A. Reed, demolition is scheduled to be completed by the end of May 2021. Construction will immediately follow.
A formal groundbreaking for the hotel is planned for June 15, 2021.
Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., shared, “The Highlander is a game changer for Radford University, the City of Radford, the New River Valley and the Roanoke Valley. Without question, this hotel project is a credit to the many individuals who devoted a significant amount of expertise and time to developing a design centered on high-quality finishes and the overall guest experience. At the same time, internal stakeholders and external partners were equally focused on creating limitless opportunities and significant benefits for the local community. The University is proud to be a leading partner with the Radford University Foundation, in addition to Preston Hollow Capital, S.B. Ballard Construction Company, Blur Workshop and Aimbridge Hospitality, on what promises to be one of the most significant economic development projects in recent years.”
President Hemphill added, “With completion in late 2022, The Highlander will serve as a sought-after destination for out-of-town guests, as well as a unique experience for local residents seeking casual or formal dining options at a one-of-a-kind event venue.”
On behalf of the Radford University Board of Visitors, Rector Robert A. Archer said, “We express our sincere appreciation to President Hemphill and his team for their strong leadership throughout this multi-year planning and negotiation process. Working in close collaboration with representatives from the University, the Foundation, the City of Radford and many external partners, President Hemphill’s bold vision became a reality with the recent closing and continued work to build a world-class hotel in close proximity to campus.”
Rector Archer added, “The Board greatly looks forward to the expanded possibilities for the main campus and the broader region.”
The Highlander, estimated at 125 rooms, is designed to reflect the local region and its rich history, as well as Radford University’s tradition of hard work. In addition, it will provide amenities not available at current area hotels, such as a stunning rooftop steakhouse and bar that will overlook campus with a backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A highlight of the structure will be a 4,000-square-foot conference space that will accommodate 250-300 people, allowing the University to potentially host large-scale events, such as business expos and conferences, it could not accommodate in the past.
“This hotel is going to attract people to Radford who might have, in the past, looked at staying outside of the city. A 4-star hotel, it is going to be a destination,” said John Cox, chief executive officer of the Radford University Foundation. “We believe it is going to generate a lot of activity downtown. That will be great for our local economy.”
Charlie Jewell, the executive director of Onward New River Valley, added, "It is exciting that significant progress is being made to bring this project to reality. This upscale hotel will not only be a great amenity for residents but will also help draw new people to the University, city and our region."
The team of private companies Radford University and the Radford University Foundation have partnered with to deliver this project include:
- S.B. Ballard, of Virginia Beach, as the general contractor;
- Blur Workshop, of Atlanta, Georgia, as the designer;
- Preston Hollow Capital, of Dallas, Texas, as the capital partner; and
- Aimbridge Hospitality, of Arlington, Texas, the largest third-party management company in the U.S., as the manager of the hotel.
Ramiro Albarran, managing director of Preston Hollow Capital, said, “Preston Hollow Capital is proud to partner with Radford University on the investment and development of this important hotel project. The Highlander is a great example of a true partnership between the public and private sectors, and we look forward to a long-term, productive partnership with the University.”
In addition, the project has received tremendous support from the Radford University Foundation Real Estate Management, L.L.C. Board, chaired by Wayne Klotz ’78.
“The hotel had multiple moving parts and was a great collaborative effort among several entities,” Klotz said. “The superb leadership and level of willingness to partner together helped make the process enjoyable and rewarding, and we look forward to our first visit.”