Another new business has joined the growing River District with Snipz Hair Studio holding a grand opening celebration Monday at 326 Main St.
Danville Mayor John Gilstrap welcomed Angel Mac to downtown, noting a drive through the River District inspired her to locate her salon there.
“She was immediately drawn by the atmosphere of this area and knew she had to open her new business in our award-winning River District,” Gilstrap said. “To Angel, the picture of a vibrant and growing downtown area resulted in four words: love at first sight.”
The salon will enjoy a “soft” opening initially, beginning next week, when Mac said she expects all permits and licenses to be in hand.
She said she expects to be fully staffed by the beginning of August. She is a certified cosmetologist and is looking for five others to join her at the salon, which will offer an array of natural and chemical services, including color and relaxers along with the latest haircuts and styles.
Hours will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Asked why the early openings, Mac smiled and said, “I’m an early-bird and I like my Saturdays with my children and granddaughter — and, you know, people like getting their hair done early on Saturday.”
Robin Jones, co-owner of Vintages on the Dan and president of the River District Association, commiserated with Mac, noting that working on Saturdays can be tough.
“But it’s our busiest day, so we’re there,” Jones said.
For information about the stylist positions available, or to schedule an appointment, call the salon at (434) 791-4797.
The Danville Industrial Development Authority officially owns the White Mill property on Memorial Drive, with the final paperwork signed Tuesday morning, Corrie Teague Bobe, assistant director of economic development, said.
The IDA announced its plans to purchase the property for $3 million in March. Danville City Council voted in April to appropriate $1.5 million from the general fund to go to the IDA toward the purchase of the White Mill property, which includes eight parcels. The purchase agreement calls for a first payment this year and a second $1.5 million to be paid in 2017-18.
Also on Tuesday, the IDA met and voted to authorize a post-closing agreement to have the final appraisal done by White Mill LLC, Royal Demo LLC or Gibbs International and to prorate the utility bills for the property.
Bobe said recently marketing efforts for the site have been “encouraging,” and there is money in the budget for the upcoming year to create a master plan for developing River District property along the north and south sides of the Dan River.
Those plans include extending the Riverwalk Trail, creating a water feature in the canal in front of the White Mill and find out what they can do with the enclosed bridge that connected the White Mill to the Long Mill years ago.
Many ideas were spawned for the covered bridge during a Span the Dan project headed by the Danville Regional Foundation in 2013, but those plans were put on hold until funding could be found.
Bobe said the IDA also will have to work with the state’s Department of Historic Resources to reuse the covered bridge in a way that maintains its historical aspects, or it won’t get state and federal tax credit assistance to cover the cost of renovating the bridge.
The massive White Mill building is unlikely to attract a single user, Bobe said.
“We’ll be working on a mixed-use concept,” Bobe said.
Also Tuesday, the IDA approved several actions to move the building of the SGS Kyocera facility in Cyber Park, across the street from the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
Those actions included approval of a design-build contract between the IDA and Blair Construction and loan commitment of $3.8 million from American National Bank to finance the project.
A new parking lot of Craghead Street — behind the 500 block and stretching to Lynn Street — also received attention from the IDA, which to create easements between IDA and Rick Barker Properties; to redraw the property lines for 523-523 Lynn St.; and to rework some retaining walls on the site.
The Noblis Center for Applied High Performance Computing — a high-tech supercomputer company at 527 Bridge St. — announced Monday it has signed a second five-year lease to continue doing business in Danville.
The company plans to install the next generation of big data processors to work alongside the Cray MXT 2 that was activated at the site in 2012.
Brent Gulick — who represented Cray Computers and helped when Noblis brought the supercomputer to Danville — said Cray and Noblis knew they needed partners to help with the project, the brainchild of Dr. H. Gilbert Miller, Noblis’s chief information officer at the time.
Gulick said the project started after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The work the company does is all for the federal government, much of it for the National Security Agency, Gulick said.
Finally all the pieces came together in 2009, about the time the recession hit and funding for almost any project dried up.
“There were no funds for a NSA supercomputer with no track record,” Gulick said.
Eventually, Noblis and Cray learned about the Virginia Tobacco Commission. Located in Northern Virginia, company officials went to meet with Tobacco Commission representatives, only to be told they would not finance a project in the northern part of the state, but if they could find a Southside partner, the possibilities for funding were good.
A memorandum of understanding was signed 14 months later.
Jon Horin, the senior manager at the Danville site, has been with Noblis for 25 years. The company started looking for a manger for the site in 2014. He and his wife — Recent empty-nesters with their son off to college — were able to quickly sell their home in northern Virginia, buy one in Danville and move to the city.
“It’s been a most enjoyable part of our lives … to be so engaged in the Danville community,” Horin said. “[Noblis] is an important asset for our community.”
Miller died in 2015, and Neal Morris — chairman of the Industrial Development Authority, which owns the building — announced Monday a plaque honoring Miller’s efforts to bring the supercomputer to Danville.
“It’s beyond my comprehension what [the supercomputer can do], but it’s great for Danville and great for the nation,” Morris said.
The company agreed to have at least 15 employees. During the announcement Horin said they are now up to 23 employees and look to hire even more as need arises.
Horin said he can’t talk specifics on the work they are doing, however, “Noblis has the Cray and other supercomputing resources, which allow us to answer problems of national significance.”