City planning for downtown Roanoke's future, looking for public input

By Rachel Lucas - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Roanoke city leaders are planning the Star City's future, and they want to hear what the community would like to see changed in the next two decades.

The last 20-ear plan was completed in 2002, and a lot has changed in downtown Roanoke since then, so the city is hoping to build on the current strengths of downtown, as well future growth.

Market Square, the City Market Building and the renovation of the Patrick Henry hotel are all major accomplishments Senior City Planner Wayne Leftwich said were in the city's previous plan.

"We've done a lot of what we've set out to do, Leftwich said.

Twenty years ago, that plan was about building the city up, Leftwich said that now, it's about expanding.

"It's really the center economic and cultural center for the region, so it's very important that we think about downtown, how we can set the stage for that. It's really how we showcase our quality of life for this region," Leftwich said.

Now, thousands of people live in downtown. Leftwich said they'll focus on how to provide more living space, as well as create additional amenities and community areas.

A big part of that is attracting small businesses, as well as large corporations.

Matt Huff with Poe and Cronk Real Estate is the listing agent for the former Norfolk Southern building on 110 Jefferson Street.

"We marketed the building for sale. It's currently under contract for sale to a local buyer who is expected to close by the end of the year," Huff said.

Huff said the market is changing, but in a good direction.

"We've seen downtown sort of mature and grow into a mixed-use center. which I think is fantastic for long term. We now have retail and residents downtown along with businesses, which I think gives it more strength," Huff said.

Leftwich said they will also focus on revitalization projects throughout the city, including a plan to address downtown flooding issues.

He also hopes to expand the downtown to include South Jefferson Street, along with Salem and Campbell.

The city will be taking public comment Thursday night at 6 pm.. in the City Market Building.

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