Leaders work to form community within growing Downtown Roanoke p - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Leaders work to form community within growing Downtown Roanoke population

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People rush in and out of the newly opened Parkway 301 building on 1st Street, something you would have rarely seen a decade ago.

Downtown Roanoke Inc's V.P. Of Economic Development, Price Gutshall, says over the past ten years, the number of people who live downtown has skyrocketed. Jumping from less than 50 to more than 1,300.

"It's had a huge impact on the actual downtown environment as well," says Gutshall.

With more people living in the area, Downtown Roanoke Inc. is working with building managers and local businesses to help all of these downtown residents get to know each other while supporting their community. Specifically, financially supporting it.

Glenn Gilmer manages the Lofts at West Station and Parkway 301. He's been working to create several events a week where his tenants get together to watch movies and football games, play poker and even study. He's also been working with local restaurants to set up happy hours, so downtown tenants don't jump in their cars and leave.

"It's an easy way to keep people from driving away from downtown to one of the chain restaurants, it keeps them downtown in a locally owned place," says Gilmer.

"Happy hours or events bring together the different population groups from different buildings to help them meet each other and foster communication," says Gutshall. "Tonight we're doing that again."

DRI is hosting a big holiday party at the 16 West Marketplace for anyone who lives downtown.

Kim Cowgill moved into the downtown area two years ago, she tries to go to as many of the events Gilmer sets up as she can.

"I grew up in Roanoke but I kind of feel like I have this whole new Roanoke community, that's different than what I was used to, which is really really nice," she says.

As Downtown Roanoke continues to grow into a unique community, leaders hope the local economy will continue to grow with it.

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