Roanoke continues investing millions of dollars to revitalize northwest

$3.8 million invested over the past three years

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke leaders continue investing millions of federal dollars in revitalization efforts in the northwest region.

They hope this can help clean up what's been known as a trouble area with high crime in the past.

One project currently underway involves transforming the former Ms. Choc's lounge, known for criminal activity, into Feeding America Southwest Virginia's new Community Solutions Center.

Stanley Hale grew up in the area, and his family owns the Roanoke Tribune in northwest.

"I love this area. I really do, but it's my home," Hale said.

But Hale said some changes need to be made.

"It’s an area that seems to have been forgotten for a good, long time," Hale said.

Over the past three years, the city has invested $3.8 million in what city leaders call the Melrose-Orange target area. That’s most of the city's federal Housing and Urban Development money. Much of that funding has gone to housing rehabilitation through partnerships with Habitat for Humanity.

"We've done a lot so far, mostly in housing, but also now in the Community Solutions Center as well," community resources program administrator Keith Holland said.

They're hoping the services the new center will provide for the community, along with continued investment in the Melrose-Orange area, will lead to more development.

"We’ve seen new families moving in, we're seeing vacant houses being put to good use. We're going to see restored building fronts, we're going to see an active commercial district here as well," Holland said.

Hale said while he appreciates the city giving community members a say in the process, he wants more.

"It’s beautiful talking about this stuff, but I need to see the action and how we're approaching these plans and going forward," Hale said.

The city plans to keep the momentum going by investing $1.6 million in the Melrose-Orange area each year for the next couple years.