If You Build It …. Will They Come?

In today’s Roanoke Times is an article about the "Boulevards at Blacksburg", a more than 378000 square foot retail/restaurant/entertainment space on South Main Street.  Last year the Town authorized redevelopment of 40 acres there that have for years been grossly neglected, and it’s nice to see plans put on paper for this project.  Even just within the last several days, crews have begun vacating storefronts and preparing the site, and it’s only a matter of time before the project is in full swing. 

Some of the retailers rumored to be joining include:

  Books-A-Million   Hibbett Sports
  Hallmark   Gold’s Gym
  Coldwater Creek   Frank Theatres
  Rack Room Shoes   Henebry’s Jewelers
  Talbots   Beamer’s Steakhouse – don’t worry, they will reopen again, I believe 
  Enzo’s Italian Bistro   Ann Taylor Loft
  Jos. A. Bank  Blacksburg Brewery & Chop House

A tentative list, for sure, but a good start.  I for one am glad to see this moving forward – it has been a contentious issue for a long, long time, but I am certain this is going to be good for the Town in the long run, and that the residents – many of whom have opposed it for so long – are going to benefit as well.  You can download the site plan from Fairmont Properties here – Download university_town_centre.pdf

.  One thing I want to know, though – where’s my Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic?

On a related note, Blacksburg council is mlling big-box development.  To be honest, I think the council is taking this too far.  I don’t want to live at the base of a Wal-Mart and Home Depot either, but to say that development creates a homogenized environment is a bit like searching with blinders on.  If you live in Blacksburg, you live in the shadow of Virginia Tech – the Town centers around the university, and our daily lives are impacted by the merging of too many sub shops (a dozen or more?), bars (too numerous to count), tanning salons (four?) and tattoo parlors (I’ll let you know – I plan on getting one at each shop) just along Main Street.  While there are dozens of internationally-renowned professional companies throughout Blacksburg, one glance at downtown shows where the focus of our retailers lies.  Intelligent development makes sense … According to the Town of Blacksburg and RKG Associates, Virginia Tech admits an average of 5,000 students a year.  With those numbers in mind and subsequent growth unrelated to the university, projections reach the conclusion that by 2020, the population within Town limits will be 47,700.  Without proper housing, employment – check out Connecting People for more information on that – and retail, where are these folks going to go?  Surrounding areas, that’s where, driving down the benefits of living here that so many of us have enjoyed for so long. 

We don’t need Wal-Mart … 47,000 people aren’t going to use a Wal-Mart so it’s a little misleading to keep pushing that idea.  But social and lifestyle centers like what’s being proposed make sense, and I’m all for the developer on this one.  Now, who do I need to talk to about Brooks Brothers?

2 thoughts on “If You Build It …. Will They Come?

  1. Marty Martin

    We have a Maggie Moo’s in Roanoke. It’s fantastic. Something like the Cold Stone Creamery in Christiansburg but WAY better.

  2. Marty Martin

    We have a Maggie Moo’s in Roanoke. It’s fantastic. Something like the Cold Stone Creamery in Christiansburg but WAY better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *