The Forum

Smith Mountain Lake has certainly seen a boom in construction of commercial property over the past few years in the Westlake area. While other projects seem to be struggling to fill the space, The Forum at Westlake on Rt. 122 has quickly leased to near capacity.
                About 70 percent of the 30,000 available square feet has been leased, according to the project manager Erik Plyler of The Plyer Group, an umbrella company for Watermark Realty and Plyer Homes and Docks.
                “It’s been steady throughout the building process,” said Plyler, whose company will move to The Forum in July. “When Goodwill came in, that was a positive for us. They would certainly be considered our anchor. … We’ve been renting a space every month or so. I anticipate being fully leased by the end of the summer.”
                In addition to Goodwill, current tenants include Hot Tub Heaven, SML Flooring, Mountain Treasures, RM Communications (Verizon), Outreach Construction and Realty Executives Exceptional. Artfully Framed at the Lake will relocate to The Forum in July. The project also includes a drive-up Wachovia ATM.
                Plyler attributes the project’s success to resourceful design and a quality location.
                “It has prime road frontage and a configuration where you can see every business from the road,” he said. “A lot of professionals still want that exposure, not just retail businesses. It’s also directly across from Capps [Home Building Center], and there’s always traffic coming through there.”
                Artfully Framed owner Karen Maynard said she chose to move her business from Westlake Commons, where she’s been the past four years, to The Forum primarily because of the location.
                “My biggest reason for moving is the visibility from the road,” she said. “That’s what retail businesses definitely need. … I’ll have a slightly larger space with a small office area to hide the paperwork.”
                Plyler said the building was constructed completely of steel with no wood except for the doors.
                “We didn’t want to have to worry about fire or termites,” he said. “There’s more cost upfront, but you don’t have to worry as much down the road.”