ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - A new business incubator is planned for Roanoke's Grandin Village, but current business owners worry it will hurt the area.
Roanoke Business Hub announced this week it bought the property off Grandin Road where it will offer "high-end office space with marketing, sales, and social media training, and an in-house office administrator. We also plan to host social and networking events at least twice a month," entrepreneur Adam Linkenauger said in a news release Monday.
In order to open, two retail businesses will have to move out.
The owners of Urban Gypsy and New to Me Consignment said the building's owners will not renew their current leases when they expire in August.
RBH said in its news release announcing the launch, "the incubator will fuel growth and expansion in the village," but community members and retail owners argue it's retail space that makes the area what it is.
"Grandin is about shopping, dining and a movie and have two retail places are eliminated from that, that dynamic of what the village is all about, it's really going to be sad for the village," said New to Me Consignment owner Jenny Prickitt. "It's going to hurt the other businesses that are surrounding it."
Prickett stopped to talk to a regular customer who walked up to her outside the store. The customer, who first came to the boutique several years ago from Lexington, says she first came to shop at the boutique. Now, she returns regularly now to shop, lunch and get her hair cut.
"Grandin Village will lose the heart of it," she said, if it becomes offices.
Micah Fraim, one of the two men behind the business hub, responded to what he's been hearing in response, via email late Wednesday.
"There's a reason why we chose the location in 'the heart' of Grandin. To play off of that, we feel that the true 'heart' of Grandin is to support local and small businesses."
We love the Grandin area, he said, and wanted to bring value to and help that community.
"We purchased the building with the intent of bringing something valuable and exciting to the area. It would never be our intention to hurt any small business, which is why we've given them a substantial notice. We've also offered to help them relocate hopefully in the open retail spaces (like Norberto's), which are right around the corner and still within the village. We are hoping to relocate 2 businesses and add up to 20," continued Fraim in the email.
Fraim said in a statement Monday there would not be any "overlap of services offered (only one insurance agent, one marketing company, etc)" but Urban Gypsy Owner Ashley Shaffner says it's retail space, and more of it, that Grandin Village needs.
"It's important to have retail be a part of that. It keeps everything going," she said.
Shaffner and Prickitt said an alternative would be for the incubator to be housed in the second floor space and in the addition behind the stores but they say they were told it wasn't enough space.
The business hub is expected to open in mid-2017.