"Open spaces" plan designed to help continue growth of Danville's River District

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DANVILLE (WSLS 10) - With Danville's River District's popularity continuing to increase among businesses and residents, the need for outdoor space is also increasing.

"There's been a great deal of growth here in the River District, from the commercial development side to the residential development side," said Ernecia Coles, Executive Director of the River District Association.

Many of the old tobacco warehouses have been turned into apartments over the past few years and more apartments are still being built with the occupancy rate well over 90 percent, according to the River District Association.

"The River District is growing not only as the hub of Danville's history, but also as a neighborhood in and of itself," Coles explained. "We need more spaces that create the feel of a neighborhood."

At Tuesday night's city council meeting, the first reading will take place for an ordinance that would appropriate a $25,000 grant to pay DHM Design to create a plan for the green spaces and alley ways in the River District.

John Hale, co-owner of Brewed Awakening on Craghead Street, said the River District community is very health oriented so he would like to see the open spaces reflect that.

"We'd really like to see places for dog parks, for bike lanes; places for people to be outside, be active," said Hale.

He said more and more people are using the Riverwalk Trail and the YMCA, so having more effective open spaces will help his business and the city as a whole capitalize on the increase.

"That would just allow us to partner with so many other organizations, such as the Y," Hale emphasized.

It's not clear when the company would begin to create the plan or how long it may take to complete.

The final adoption of the ordinance is scheduled for October 4.

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