Originally a railroad industry town during and after the Civil War, by the 1920s, Martinsburg, West Virginia became a leader in textile manufacturing, with large commercial businesses rapidly opening in the downtown corridor. The former Shenandoah Hotel is the only surviving building of its kind in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The building itself sits on the site of the Blondel Mansion, which was constructed in the early 1800s by the plantation owner and Haitian Revolution refugee Anthony Blondel. The home was purchased for $45,000 in 1923 after his death and subsequently torn down. Local community investors raised $600,000 to build the Shenandoah Hotel, a luxurious 104-key boutique hotel that opened to the public on George Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1926. Located in the heart of Martinsburg, the hotel became a cornerstone of Martinsburg’s social scenes, making it a popular destination for tourists and celebrities.
The hotel featured a “Crystal Dining Room” which could seat up to 175 people and a “Gold Ball Room” for dancing and events. The spaces were specifically designed to complement guests’ gowns. The hotel also included a coffee shop and six rentable storefronts that faced Queen Street and two storefronts that faced Martin Street. The hotel eventually changed hands and became the Gateway Inn during the 1960s, where it remained for about 20 years. However, transfers in ownership eventually saw the permanent closing of the hotel space and the eventual shuttering of the first-floor commercial use. The building has remained largely vacant since.
The project will see the former Shenandoah Hotel transformed into a vibrant mixed-use space in the heart of the Martinsburg Main Street. This is the fourth project in NTCIC’s Irvin Henderson Main Street Revitalization Fund.
The historic building will be revitalized into 38 residential units and 16,000 square feet of commercial space. Ten thousand square feet on the ground floor will house multiple tenants, with a focus on small businesses graduating from a nearby incubator, as well as restaurant space. The basement will include 6,000 square feet, which will likely support a commercial/retail operation and a yoga studio/gym.
NTCIC’s investment goal with the Shenandoah project is to promote a small deal in a tertiary market by creating community-serving commercial space and setting aside affordable residential units to benefit the local community. The project sponsors will work directly with Martinsburg’s local Main Street Association to find commercial tenants for the space.
Economic and Community Impact
Known as the “Gateway to the Shenandoah Valley,” Martinsburg boasts a historic downtown that covers about 52 blocks and consists of commercial sites, retail, office buildings, warehouses, and storage buildings in which the Shenandoah centrally sits. Main Street Martinsburg is a collaboration of dedicated volunteers, business and property owners, concerned citizens, and local governments that work together, promotes, and enhances the economic strength of historic downtown Martinsburg. Martinsburg Main Street strongly supports the revitalization efforts as a way to connect members of the community to key destinations, hiking trails, and adjacent neighborhoods, while developing a new and much needed tenant mix that will allow the community to take the next step toward revitalizing the historic downtown. Martinsburg Main Street will be directly involved in the selection and approval of all commercial tenants looking to take space in the new Shenandoah Hotel building.
The Project will create over 16,000sf of commercial office and retail space in a formerly vacant, underutilized building. The space will allow small, local, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses to expand and meet the economic demand for new restaurants, retail shops, and professional offices. The Project will also provide much needed mixed-income housing in the downtown district, with 38 residential units of which 20% will be income-restricted to households earning 80% or less of AMI. The project is projected to create up to 40 permanent positions and 57 jobs during construction.