Blacksburg’s Downtown Master Plan

Over the Christmas Holiday, I came across the Downtown Master Plan for Blacksburg.  According to their website, "the plan develops a long-range vision for the future of Downtown Blacksburg as the heart of a vibrant community."

Fair enough, I’m all for it.  The Plan goes on to identify six major strategies considered important to the implementation of the Plan, including: An Authentic Town Center, A Specialty Shopping Destination, A Regional Cultural District, A Welcoming Place for Visitors, A Mixed-Use Neighborhood, and A Partnership for the Future.   

So how are they doing?  You can get the entire report here.

An Authentic Town Center – the downtown is the center of activity, and the gathering place.  Is downtown the first place you turn when you want to gather?

A Specialty Shopping Destination
      rather than having "the most distinctive collection of specialty retail shops and one-of-a-kind restaurants", Blacksburg currently boasts vacant storefronts, dilapidated and neglected buildings, and soaring costs for small business merchants – the very kind the Town is attempting to recruit.  Enough bars and sandwich shops.

A Regional Cultural District
      a performing arts district downtown?  Here’s something to get behind, folks.  Arts benefit local communities, but don’t just stop at the Virginia Tech Performing Arts Center or The Lyric!  How about support for local arts, including local bands, visiting painters, and places to see these talented folks at work!  It worked in Austin, and I’d be willing to bet the folks that live here would support it as well.  I’ve met some of the most cultured, intellectually-diverse people here in our small corner of the world, and I KNOW they’re starving for something than a crowded dance club.

A Welcoming Place for Visitors – that Blacksburg could be a base camp for visitors to this region is entirely true … but what do they do when they’re here?

A Mixed-Use Neighborhood – urban renewal and development is a grand plan, but see Dmp
"A Specialty Shopping Destination".  Residential-above-retail is a great idea, but if the best we can do is old apartments with faulty plumbing and wiring, that doesn’t exactly spell revitalization.  And The Lofts At The Lyric?  Give me a break, look at these numbers … the cheapest loft rents for $1095 a month and offers 584 square feet, while the largest loft boasts 956 square feet for only $2295 a month!  Affordable?  Not a chance!  We can do a better job of providing affordable, quality downtown living for our residents. 

A Partnership For The Future – We’ve done this … 

What do you think?  I love this Town, and I love this area, but I’m of the mindset that there’s so much more to be done.  How about you … what are your thoughts?

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