Potential Move for Lynchburg Visitors Center

Combined Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center

Lynchburg, VA - City leaders want to move Lynchburg's Visitors Center to attract more tourists. The idea is to put it near Candlers Mountain Road.

Right now, the visitors center is downtown near the Armory. The Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce is moving into the former Billy Joe's Ice-Cream Shop near the Kirkley Hotel. The chamber runs the visitors center, so some say it's a good idea to put the chamber and visitors center under the same roof.

Real estate is all about location, and Chamber Board Member Greg Starbuck says the old Billy Joe's is perfect for a visitors center because it's busy.

"The idea is to catch the tens of thousands of people that pass through the Candlers Mountain Road area and push them to downtown," said Starbuck.

For Starbuck, the visitors center already located downtown hasn't been doing its job. A constant 12,000 stop in the shop every year. That's a measly 5% of the Hill City's tourism potential.

"The current location is bad at best quite frankly," said Jeff Helgeson, Lynchburg city council member.

Helgeson and the rest of city council gave the green light to dive deeper into the idea as a move is gaining momentum.

"If a visitor can actually find the visitor center on that corner downtown, go around all that one-way parking, park and go in, they really don't need a visitors center," said Helgeson.

"The center where it is now is hard to get to, it's on a one-way street, has limited parking," said Starbuck.

But if the move happens, the question remains: What to do with the building downtown - keep it, shut it down, or do something else entirely?

One concern is the move leaves downtown with an empty building. Proponents say the move will bring more people into the visitors center and more people downtown.

Proponents also say putting the visitors center is a good financial move: $500,000 versus a brand new building at a couple million.

The next step is to take a more concrete proposal back to city council in a few months.