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SML Center effort faces setback, as outdoors retailer announces purchase of former Grand building in Westlake

Grand Home Furnishings in Westlake

Rock Outdoors purchased the former Grand Home Furnishings building earlier this week with plans to covert it into its newest location sometime next summer. The sale is a major setback for SML Center Inc. which was planning to purchase the building to create a community center.

In a move that is a setback to efforts develop a Smith Mountain Lake community center, North Carolina-based boat dealership and outdoors retailer Rock Outdoors will be adding a new location at Smith Mountain Lake next summer.

The retailer finalized plans last week to purchase the former Grand Home Furnishings building in Westlake and converting it into a third location. The other two North Carolina locations are in Lexington and Winston-Salem.

Smith Mountain Lake Center Inc. has been raising money this year to purchase the same building to create a community center.

Interior renderings were released last week providing details of how the building would have been renovated once the nonprofit was able to purchase it.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed but we always knew this was a possibility because the building was being actively marketed,” Vicki Gardner, SML Center president, said in a news release on Friday. “We had made great strides but just weren’t able to raise the funds quickly enough to purchase it.”

SML Center Inc. was attempting to raise more than $2 million to purchase the building. The group announced in August it had raised approximately 70% of the funds needed to purchase the vacant building.

Gardner, the former executive director of the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in the news release she had spoken to representatives of Rock Outdoors earlier this week and welcomed them to the community.

“Our board is pleased that it’s a great fit for the Smith Mountain Lake community,” she said. “We’re all committed to enhancing the quality of life for our residents and visitors here.”

Gardner said the board will regroup in the coming months and discuss ways to move forward with the project. Due to the Grand Home Furnishings building no longer being an option, she also stated that anyone who donated to the fundraising campaign for the “express purpose of purchasing the Grand building” can have their money refunded.

“We’ll be reaching out to each and every person who donated to our ‘Grand Plan’ campaign to thank them and explain the process for returning their contribution if that is their wish,” Gardner said.

Rock Outdoors sells gear and apparel for fishing, water sports, camping and hiking. The Westlake location is also expected to include a boat service department according to the retailer’s Facebook page.

Few other details are available on the Facebook page and the company was unable to provide any additional information Friday.

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