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Face of downtown Roanoke could change with developments in works

Heironimus building plans mark big step in downtown transformation

ROANOKE, Va. – Downtown Roanoke leaders are celebrating development plans for a building in the heart of the Star City, which mark a major step in transforming the area.

The Heironimus building has been vacant for more than 20 years. It's at the corner of South Jefferson Street and Church Avenue.

"I have seen downtown up and down many times,” Larry Davidson, who owns Davidsons, said.

Davidson has been running Davidsons clothing store on Jefferson Street for more than half a century.

"Moved into this space in 1964," Davidson said.

His business is right across the street from what was once a department store, until it closed in 1996. That was the last time the Heironimus building was in use.

"This area being totally vacant has really been depressing,” Davidson said.

But now that's changing, with plans to transform the building into a mix of apartments, restaurants and other businesses.

"A huge win for downtown Roanoke," Downtown Roanoke Inc. marketing and communication specialist Jaime Clark said.

It's not the only recent victory, though. In the past few months, 10 News has told you about plans to revamp historic Fire Station No. 1, the Liberty Trust building and the old Cornerstone building in the market area. That's on top of the thousands of residents who have moved downtown in the past decade.

"I think that really started the trend of revitalizing these older properties that were sitting vacant. It's been a wonderful snowball since then,” Clark said.

It’s a snowball that Davidson says has skipped Jefferson Street until now.

"In the jigsaw puzzle, it's one of the key pieces right in the middle of the puzzle that's finally been put in," Davidson said.

About 80 apartments planned for the Heironimus building will help with what downtown leaders said is still a big need for housing. They said there is enough parking to accommodate this growth, but it's something city leaders will likely have to re-evaluate in the future.