RU announces plan to develop riverfront, build hotel


Heather Bell

RADFORD – Radford University President Dr.Brian Hemphill announced plans Friday to make the university a River Campus, with a comprehensive plan to develop the riverfront property along campus with a restaurant, amphitheater, zip-line and more.

Hemphill also detailed plans for a world-class hotel to be built by the university at the corner of Tyler Avenue and Calhoun Street. The announcements were made during Hemphill’s State of the University Address to kick off Homecoming Weekend for RU.

Hemphill explained “for more than a year, a cross-functional Committee has been working closely with staff in the Division of Finance and Administration on the 2020-2030 Master Plan.

“The Master Plan will be reviewed and approved by the Board of Visitors as part of their December meeting,” he said. “As the plan is in the final development stages, I am honored to have the opportunity to share two significant additions that will be made to our campus and our community.

The Master Plan will outline the construction and operation of a full-service, multi-story hotel located very close to campus at the intersection of Tyler Avenue and Calhoun Street.”

Hemphill said the hotel will offer amenities not currently seen at the city’s current lodging options, including a rooftop restaurant.The University is working with JLL, a commercial real estate services firm, on the hotel project.

“The hotel will provide amenities not available at current area hotels and a proximity to campus that cannot be matched, “said Hemphill. “I am confident that our campus will serve as a wonderful backdrop for area visitors and University guests. Imagine standing on the top floor of the hotel in the rooftop restaurant and seeing the beauty and excitement of our campus.”

Hemphill said the master plan focuses on “the holistic experience at Radford University.”

The plan centers on “the robust academic offerings and innovative accomplishments as our University continues to offer a living and learning environment that students are proud to call home,”he explained,adding the riverfront development plans are a part of that holistic experience.

“We are proud to provide an engaging, inclusive, and welcoming environment, while maximizing the natural beauty and scenic views of Southwest Virginia.,” said Hemphill. “Nestled along the New River, there are an abundance of outdoor activities for students, faculty, staff, and community members to enjoy. I would contend, that it has been underutilized. And, it is why I am proud to announce the development of the riverfront.”

The project will brand RU as a River Campus,Hemphill said..

Plans include:

A revamped bridge design for an amazing entry into the riverfront;

A new traffic pattern along University Drive;

The addition of a Champions Walk showcasing the success of our student-athletes and athletic teams;

A boardwalk for morning and evening strolls;

River access for experiential learning and outdoor recreation;

A full-service restaurant with a riverfront dining experience;

An amphitheater to showcase the arts through concerts and performances overlooking the New River;

A zip-line for adventure and thrill-seeking Highlanders.

“The River Campus project will drastically change the way students, faculty, staff, and the community utilize our grounds and facilities,” said Hemphill.

“This campus has fostered, and will continue to foster, the intellectual and personal growth of so many.

Through a pursuit of discovery, dedication to scholarship, and spirit of service, together, we are collectively bridging the knowledge and skills gap by providing new opportunities for our students and our citizens.”