Parr buys Golden Peanut site

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, January 18, 2018

With development on the rise in Suffolk, four business partners have taken steps they say will bring nostalgia and electricity to the downtown area.

Charles Parr, owner and funeral director at Parr Funeral Home and Crematory, recently purchased 303 Saratoga St. from Golden Peanut Company for $225,000.

The 10-acre parcel was set to have development last year by Monument Companies, but the company walked away from the project due to uncertainty about the future of the state’s historic tax credit program. Monument relies on those credits to help finance the work it does to revitalize and redevelop properties.

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Craig Johnson, president of Virginia Marketing Associates, Charles Brown, a former vice mayor, and Robert Babb, owner of The Countertop Man, will join Parr in his endeavors to develop the parcel.

“I looked at it a few years back and conversed with Charles and some others about doing something when Monument submitted the contract,” Parr said. “When their contract collapsed because of the historic tax credit, we submitted an offer, and it got rejected. They came back and accepted the offer.”

Unconcerned with historic tax credits, Parr, a former city councilman from the Suffolk Borough, is ready to bring new life into downtown along with his partners.

“Some of us meet in the mornings for breakfast and talk about our vision for downtown Suffolk,” Johnson said. “The ideas are limitless, and making it happen is another thing.”

“This project on the books has been talked about for years and years. And to make downtown complete is important. It’s very important for making downtown energized,” Parr said.

The group plans on bringing a new energy with an old-school feel to the parcel with entertainment, education and lifestyle venues along with residential. One idea is to have art venues located within the buildings.

These ideas aren’t yet a concrete plan, but those who have heard about it are excited to see what the group can do to the space.

“I think it’s a stellar idea,” said Councilman Curtis Milteer. “That area needs revitalization. The peanut industry years ago had it monopolized. That would be a great idea to add to it.”

Parr hopes the development will help bring more foot traffic to downtown.

“In the old days when you went downtown, you were shoulder to shoulder. That’s what we need to come back to,” Parr said.

Some of the buildings still have their historic architecture on the outside, and the group plans to keep them as such. Parr and his partners have a lot of ideas brewing, but there is still a long way to go before anything big happens. Right now, there is no timeline set for development.

“I think the opportunity to redevelop the Golden Peanut site is great, and a mix of uses is what our development trends are heading towards,” said Kevin Hughes, director of economic development. “It is representative of what our downtown initiative plan looks like.”

“One thing we are going to make sure of is we are going to make sure the community is involved. The community will be kept in the loop,” Parr said. “We’re open-minded and open-eared. We are going to engage the community. The community has to be engaged to move things forward. Happy citizens get things done.”

“You have to have public support,” Johnson said. “It’s not an overnight project with a lot of moving parts.”