Last week brothers Chris and Jonathan Virgilio, owners of local real estate and development company Virgilio Investments LLC announced they closed on purchasing the Gamble Mill, the historic property in Bellefonte that has sat vacant since 2015. After numerous other plans for the property fell through, the town is buzzing with excitement about what it means for the old mill and for the town. Jonathan Virgilio answered some questions via email for The Gazette about what they hope to do with the property.
What drew you to the Gamble Mill and investing in Bellefonte?
I'm a member of the community and I think Bellefonte is a special space to live, work and play. The first time we toured the Gamble Mill my brother and I were drawn to the historic nature (2nd oldest in Bellefonte) of the building and knew that it could be revived into a unique and inviting destination for locals and visitors. The town is continuing to grow and we want to contribute to the future of Bellefonte.
Describe your relationship with your brother. Why do you make a good team for projects like this?
We've been very close in every phase of life and enjoy working together. Our skill sets complement each other well as business partners. My brother has a significant historical renovation and project management background, and as a local teacher in the district, I have a strong network in the community. I am able to bridge that experience to projects like the Gamble Mill.
People are excited about your vision. Could you go into more detail about what you would like to accomplish in order to preserve the history and still modernize the building?
The goal is to not significantly alter the historic fabric of the building but rather design around and emphasize the building's historic components. The building has changed over the years since it was built, so we'll be looking at ways to incorporate parts of the building's history into design features.
How personally involved will you and your brother be with the renovations and, then, the operations of the business once it is complete?
The Gamble Mill is a special place in Bellefonte, so we want to make sure the project is a success. We are very hands-on with all our renovations and business operations. I'll be at the property every day during the renovations and we will be significantly involved in the day-to-day operations when it is complete.
You talked about a restaurant, brew pub or beer hall? Have you spoken with any potential operators?
We've had serious conversation with several local operators. Those conversations are re-starting now that the property is purchased and we are in the design phases.
Where do you see the Gamble Mill in 2 years? Five years?
In two years the building will be fully renovated and open for business. We envision a thriving restaurant or brew pub that is a favorite spot for locals and out-of-town visitors. We hope that in five years this, along with other developments in Bellefonte, will continue to draw people to the area and Gamble Mill specifically. We are looking to also provide short term stay suites, an event space and some smaller retail shops.