Tag Archives: First & Main

Borrowing From Another Blog, We’ve Been “First & Maimed”

First & Main, in Blacksburg, continues to struggle.

The Roanoke Times wrote about it today, there’s been plenty written about it here (and here), and there’s been a great conversation about it on TwoBurgs blog.

I like the project.  It’s a nice addition to retail on the outskirts of downtown Blacksburg, easily accessible from all points in Town, as well as Christiansburg and 460, and it’s an opportunity to bring in locally-grown businesses that provide a wide-range of products and services not found in the downtown core.  There have been mistakes, sure, and lots of finger pointing.  But who cares?

Instead, we’ll watch a half-empty development continue to waste away.  It’s not for a lack of trying on the part of some, but far too few.

Do yourself – and the shop owners at First & Main – a favor and stop by in the next couple of weeks.  See what they have to offer.

Blacksburg’s First & Main – One Year Later

First & Main, Blacksburg

First & Main, Blacksburg

When First & Main in Blacksburg opened on Black Friday last year, the project was touted as a huge success for Blacksburg.

And it could have been.

But now, it seems it’s just a hodgepodge of storefronts, both and empty and full, and a lot of uncertainty.  And that’s a shame.

I don’t really feel like opening up the First & Main debate so much these days, in all honesty – you can see some of the history here, if you’re interested.  It really tires me, this division a project that should have been lauded as a success for the region and not just Blacksburg.  Regional and national retailers were lined up at the door to have Main Street access to the community, yet politics and bluster got in the way.  Now a few tenants have sued the developer, but if the developer is blocked by state law, isn’t a suit a mute point?

Where does it end up?  Who knows.  Developer Jeanne Stosser says she’s willing to put residential mixed-use on the property, but says that it’s not the best use of the property.  That’s probably true, but with such a large rate of vacancy in the property, don’t we need to look at stabilizing the project?  I admire what Ms. Stosser has accomplished in her career, and I agree that residential might not be the highest and best use, but it’s certainly a better use than sitting vacant.

Ahh, the draYma. I need a beer from Bull & Bones.

The High Cost of Elitism

Full disclosure – I’m a Blacksburg resident, have been since 2001.  Now that’s out of the way.

Excellent op-ed in Sunday’s Roanoke Times regarding the high cost of elitism.  My favorite line (emphasis mine):

“The costs came in the forms of economic stagnation, limited job opportunities, underfunding for the social infrastructure of bridges, roads and schools, and high property taxes.”

Hat tip to New River Journal – he’s got several good links there regarding the First & Main debate.

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Is The Third Suit A Charm?

No suits man.gif
It was only a matter of time, I think, until we saw this one added to the mix.  According to the Roanoke Times, this is the third suit filed so far regarding Blacksburg’s First & Main Development.

On Wednesday, attorneys for Fairmount Properties filed an appeal to last month’s Blacksburg Town Council’s vote against the installation of a Sonic Drive-In restaurant at the new First & Main development on South Main Street. 

Some quotes from the article:

“The council has in the recent past approved similar special-use permits for other restaurants, including a Wendy’s across the street from the site of the proposed Sonic.”

“On Aug. 5, the town’s planning commission is scheduled to hear public comments on another special-use permit for phase one, this one for an Arby’s restaurant at 1450 S. Main St.”

“This … is political retribution for Fairmount’s successful challenge of the Town Council’s previous improper actions towards the First & Main project.”

That’s right – this is all about control

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Thanks for the picture.

Where CAN You Build It?

That's the question asked by outgoing Blacksburg council member Paul Lancaster after last night's 4-3 vote, turning down the proposed Sonic in the First & Main development

Wish I had the answer.  I've had two calls from friends this morning asking about the issue, and other than referring them to other posts on the topic, I don't know what to tell them.  I think we're makinSonic?g a mistake, arguing over loudspeakers in a retail center.  If the Sonic was to go where I think it was to go, I am virtually certain that there are louder, more nuisance-creating shops, service stations and the like throughout Town that are closer to residential areas than this would've been.

Before you tar and feather me … I agree with one of the points against Sonic.  First & Main is a pedestrian-oriented facility, and the footprint of a Sonic certainly doesn't encourage walk-up traffic.  However, if I'm reading the tenant plan from May 18 correctly, it looks as if the location of Sonic was probably Outparcel #5, fronting on South Main Street.  Surely the traffic plan could have been modified to prevent pedestrians and cars from interfering with each other …

Download first_main_tenant_plan.pdf

So what to do?  Listen, it's a Sonic, I don't know that I care that much about the fact that I can't get a $.99 milkshake (do they REALLY put milk in there, anyway?).  What I'm more concerned about is the fact that we're showing these retailers we're going to make it REALLY difficult to do business in Town limits.  That's disappointing.  And we're telling up and coming businesses, like Modea, or Mailtrust, or <insert CRC tenant list here> that we're not serious about providing their employees quality of life options.


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A Sonic Boom

What is – I think – a pretty good editorial regarding the latest First & Main controversy

council must issue permits consistently and deny them only for a compelling public reason.

Sonic in blacksburg
Is Council issuing permits consistently, and denying them only for a compelling public reason?  To me, it seems not.  It seems that Council is going to make it difficult for Fairmount to proceed on every point.  Is that what we want our retailers seeing?  As our elected officials setting us up for long-term failure, as developers and retailers alike decide to bypass Blacksburg because of changing rules?  I know for a fact two developers who have told me personally they'll never build in Blacksburg again … it seems to me we're sending the wrong message. 

As our population grows – and it will grow – will we be able to provide the retail, residential and public service infrastructure?

UPDATE Tuesday 7:30am watch the fireworks tonight at Blacksburg's Town Council meeting.

UPDATE Friday 9:30ameditorial from the Collegiate Times

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It’s All Starting To Come Together?

The tenant mix is beginning to be formalized publicly

With all the publicity that's come from a project like this (we Blacksburg-ians can sure get worked up, huh?), what's your take on First & Main?  Is this something you're going to utilize, or because of the way the Big Box issue has been handled will you just stay away?  Leave a comment, let us know what you think!

It’s All Starting To Come Together?

The tenant mix is beginning to be formalized publicly

With all the publicity that's come from a project like this (we Blacksburg-ians can sure get worked up, huh?), what's your take on First & Main?  Is this something you're going to utilize, or because of the way the Big Box issue has been handled will you just stay away?  Leave a comment, let us know what you think!