New life is coming to the long-shuttered halls of the former home of William Byrd High School in Vinton.
On Thursday, officials celebrated the completion of a major redevelopment project that brought 83 upscale apartments to the circa-1930s school building.
The new destination, dubbed The Billy Byrd, preserved the hillside structure’s classic architecture and showcases unique features such as the original hardwood floors of the space once occupied by the school gym.
Developer Dave McCormack, president of Waukeshaw Development, said he was instantly struck by the dormant building’s potential from the moment he saw it.
“It’s such a dramatic location,” he said of the hilltop perch on Highland Road. “The views are incredible.”
The Classical Revival architecture was another asset, McCormack added, as was the easy access to the downtown districts of both Vinton and Roanoke.
Waukeshaw Development estimated it invested around $11 million in the redevelopment. The Petersburg-based company bought the property from Roanoke County with the endorsement of the town of Vinton.
The project was the latest in a string of economic development collaborations undertaken by the town and the county.
Other milestones included the unveiling of a modernized downtown library in Vinton, the redevelopment of the also dormant Roland E. Cook Elementary School building and the conversion of a vacant building into a new location for the popular Macado’s restaurant.
“These projects don’t just happen,” said Vinton Mayor Brad Grose, adding the town has been fortunate to have many partners who’ve backed the community’s vision for its future.
“This shows what can be achieved when people come together,” Grose said. “We are all very excited to see the former William Byrd school, one of our grand old ladies here in town, be transformed and put back into service in our community.”
The Billy Byrd offers a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments. High ceilings, new fixtures and streams of natural light mark the units.
The apartments are available for lease now. The rent ranges from approximately $800 to $1,000 per month.
Ten units have been claimed already, officials said. Leasing is being handled by the locally based Hall Associates Inc. More information is available online at www.thebillybyrd.com.
On Thursday afternoon, the community gathered for a ribbon-cutting and tours of the revitalized space. Attendees included several William Byrd alum who walked the halls as students before the building was replaced by the current high school on Washington Avenue in 1970.
“I’m a William Byrd Terrier inside and out,” said Steve Musselwhite, a graduate of the Class of 1966 and current chairman of the Roanoke County Economic Development Authority.
These halls were where a young Musselwhite met his future bride, absorbed life lessons from his coaches and teachers and forged friendships that would last a lifetime.
“The relationships formed at this school transcended the years that we were here,” he said. “I’m grateful to be a Terrier. And I’m grateful that The Billy Byrd is here now and will go on for years and years.”