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Washington County, VA: Awash in New Developments

From a major commercial project to a sports complex and a boutique lodge, there's a lot going on in Abingdon and the surrounding area.

By Kevin Litwin on January 10, 2022

The Brinkwaters in Damascus, VA
The Brinkwaters

While people love the quaint, small-town lifestyle they can have in Washington County, life here is not stagnant. The community is always changing for the better, and a number of projects are in place to help keep up with the needs of the region.

One example is The Meadows, a long-planned commercial project in Abingdon that has seen a lot of development in recent years, including a Food City grocery, a Waffle House, a Pizza Hut, a Starbucks, a Jersey Mike’s, G2K Games, Eastman Credit Union and a Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

Voters recently approved another large development in nearby Bristol – a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It is expected to open in 2023 and will be located on the site of the former Bristol Mall. The facility will house retail space for 50 stores and restaurants, a large sports betting parlor and 90,000 square feet dedicated to children’s activities.

Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon, VA
Jason Barnette

“Outdoor recreation was up about 30% during the pandemic, so tourism was an economic saving grace for us. We do a lot of marketing for tourism and are lucky to have so many outdoor destinations that can be enjoyed at all times.”

Tonya Triplett | Economic Development and Tourism

Coming Soon to Abingdon

Another entertainment project currently under construction is a sports complex in Abingdon. Once finished, it will feature four baseball diamonds, two soccer fields, one practice field, outbuildings and a walking track.

As of late 2021, the new sports complex didn’t have an official name yet. It is scheduled to open by the spring of 2022, says Tonya Triplett, Abingdon’s director of economic development and tourism.

“The town is also working on designs for a potential BMX skills track that will be similar to a skateboard park but for bikes,” Triplett says. “We hope to eventually construct that skills facility near Interstate 81, the Virginia Creeper Trail and the new sports complex.”

Triplett also notes that since June 2020, Abingdon has welcomed 14 new food establishments and four retail shops.

The Brinkwaters offer cozy rooms in their boutique-style lodge.
Christian Michael Chew

Open for Business in Damascus

A unique boutique-style, short-stay lodge called Brinkwaters recently opened in Damascus in a refurbished former business site. Interestingly, Brinkwaters offers 13 rooms, and it opened on Friday, September 13, 2021. Brinkwaters is a mashup of the owners’ last names – Eric and Emily Brinker and Trey Waters.

“I grew up in Washington County and have a lot of family in Damascus, and some of my family members and a few friends own rental properties in town,” Waters says. “I started to become interested in the hospitality business because those friends and family informed me that their rental properties are always at full capacity. They often have to turn people away because there are no vacancies.”

“It’s a contactless experience, meaning that guests book online, get a code emailed to them, then use the code to enter the building and enter their room. In theory, they might never see a management person during their entire time at Brinkwaters.”

Trey Waters

Waters had owned a large industrial building in Damascus since 2006, and when his commercial tenants moved out in early 2021, he wanted to transform the building into guest rooms for travelers hiking along the Appalachian Trail.

“The Brinkers are contractors who decided to partner with me on the project, and the result is a very cool building that allows guests to enjoy short stays,” he says.

Waters says the rooms were designed to retain the building’s industrial feel, with polished concrete floors, cinder block walls and exposed rafters. Plus, it is in close proximity to area trails. “Brinkwaters is right along the Appalachian Trail and literally seconds from the Virginia Creeper Trail,” he says. “It’s a really attractive location for adventurers, and business has been going very well ever since we opened up.”

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