Construction of a six-story, $100 million building in downtown Blacksburg is expected to be occupied by Virginia Tech by late fall, with stores and restaurants expected to open next year, according to university officials.
The 250,000 square foot mixed-use building on Gilbert Street will include educational and student uses, as well as retail and dining options for the wider community, complemented by a rooftop terrace restaurant on the sixth floor, a previously announced Virginia Tech.
It is the tallest building in the city center.
For the moment, an underground car park with 124 spaces under the structure is open to vehicle traffic.
As for the storefronts and restaurants that will move into the first and sixth floors of Gilbert Place, negotiations are active and underway between the Virginia Tech Foundation and potential tenants, according to an email from university spokesperson Mark Owczarsky.
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“It would be premature to make any announcements,” Owczarski said in the email.
Two floors of the new building will be dedicated office space for Virginia Tech’s computer science department, the email said. Other departments will also use Gilbert Place.
Owczarski said the computer parts of Gilbert Place are key to the university’s “tech talent pipeline.” The pipeline aims to fuel the future Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia with graduate students in high-demand technology fields like computer science and computer engineering.
“The Gilbert Place project will provide the home for [computer science] place students with an undergraduate degree in that pipeline,” Owczarski said. “In other words, the growth here connects to the innovation campus to the north and represents the pipeline coming together toward a key state goal that influenced Amazon’s decision to come here.”
Construction is also underway on an 11-story Innovation Campus building slated to open in 2024, according to a Virginia Tech webpage. Both efforts are guided by the Virginia Tech Foundation, a nonprofit corporation created to financially support the public university.
Additionally, Owczarski said Gilbert Place will house a counseling center for students, as part of the university’s efforts to improve mental health support.
“The timing of this couldn’t be better,” he said.
Catherine Potter of the University Foundation is due to give an update on the Gilbert Place project at a Main Street Connect meeting on Tuesday. The meeting is set for 8 a.m. at the Next Door Bake Shop on Turner Street.