Reimagine Oak Grove gets feedback on 20-year plan

Plan is to create place to eat, shop, entertain, connect

ROANOKE Co., Va. – Thursday night, people shared their thoughts on what should happen to a busy part of Roanoke County. It's a joint project with the city to develop a 20-year plan for the Oak Grove area.

Electric Road is the gateway to the county and both city and county leaders want to make it grand. Last year, they did Reimagine 419, which focused on the Tanglewood Mall area. Now it's time to Reimagine Oak Grove.

The barbecue sizzles just right at Roanoke County's Wildwood Smokehouse, and it's fair to say the restaurant has been around the block quite a few times with regard to its location at Oak Grove Plaza.

"It will be 20 years Aug. 12, so we've seen a lot of customers come through. We've seen a lot of development and stuff moving in and out of 419 and the Oak Grove area," Wildwood Smokehouse owner Steve Dell said. 

And what's coming next to the table won't be delivered by a server, but rather by local government. The plan is called Reimagine Oak Grove.

"We identified 10 or 12 areas, where are those concentrations of development, this was one of those areas that we wanted to look at and do a more detailed study," Roanoke County deputy planning director Philip Thompson said.

The target area stretches Electric Road from about Oak Grove Plaza to Keagy Village, straddling the city-county line. Community members marked dots and wrote suggestions at Thursday's input session with their big ideas.

"What type of development from a commercial and residential standpoint they want to see, what kind of streetscape or public spaces they'd like to see," Thompson said.

Some said Keagy Village down the road didn't turn into the great thing it was sold to them to be. With transition at the former Allstate building and other shakeups, this could now be the right stage.

"We may want to see higher density, opportunities for development, make it more walkable, make more nodes of activity," Thompson said

That could possibly give more people a chance to taste what puts the smoke in Wildwood Smokehouse.

"More people means more money, and we can develop things that way," Dell said. "When they bring business in it helps our restaurant.

As long as traffic is considered in the plan, Wildwood Smokehouse is all for it. And the restaurant can't wait to make a regular out of you.

Local leaders will take feedback from Thursday's meeting and develop a draft plan that will be presented later this fall and then go up for adoption a few months later. Then, the process of wooing developers to actually build will begin, a process that will be prioritized and done over the long haul.

"We're going to start looking to implementation, what are the types of facilities that we want, do we need to re-zone property, do we need to develop additional regulations, do we need to develop design guidelines, so there's a lot of things coming up to this meeting that will help us lay the foundation for those future actions," Thompson said.

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