Bluefield Arts & Revitalization Corporation plans to reuse Travelers Hotel building

Mar. 16—By GREG JORDAN

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — American Rescue Plan money is being sought for a project which would revitalize a vacant Bluefield building which was once listed in the Green Book cataloguing lodging and restaurants serving Black travelers during the days of segregation.

The old Travelers Hotel on Raleigh Street is now owned by the Bluefield Arts and Revitalization Corporation, also known as BARC, Executive Director Brian Tracey told the Mercer County Commission.

The hotel was originally a Green Book property offering lodging to Black travelers during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, Tracey said. In 1950 it was converted into an office building and offered some dining in the 1980s and 1990s. It is currently vacant.

Tracey said the corporation is requesting a $50,000 American Rescue Plan grant to help convert the former hotel into downtown apartments.

"Our project would convert the property into 10 apartments, studios and one-bedrooms targeting seniors who are looking to downsize out of homes that are too big, too hard to maintain," Tracey said.

The apartment could also appeal to professionals such as nurses and teachers as well as employees of Alorica and Intuit in downtown Bluefield, he said, adding that renovating the former hotel would bring other benefits.

"First, it would bring much needed rental housing to downtown Bluefield," Tracey told the commissioners. "Secondly, it would help restore the legacy of Black entrepreneurship in Mercer County, both which would inspire people to open new businesses across the county."

The project would also create new construction jobs and enhance property values, he said. BARC is currently speaking with the city of Bluefield about additional funding.

Besides providing lodging, the hotel's lobby could house exhibits recognizing local Black history and the contributions of Black entrepreneurship, Tracey said.

The Mercer County Commission will vote on the American Rescue Plan request in April. Commissioner Greg Puckett said there was between $110,000 to $130,000 left in the fund.

The Bluefield Arts and Revitalization Corporation is a non-profit organization which uses the arts to create opportunities for education, employment and entertainment in downtown Bluefield.

In addition to the Granada Theater, BARC manages the Paine Gallery in downtown Bluefield and offers arts-based educational programs to area students in collaboration with Mercer County public schools.

— contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com.com

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com