ROANOKE, Va. – A major renovation project in downtown Roanoke could reshape the heart of the Star City.
On Monday, 10 News reported that the City Council is backing a multimillion-dollar plan to move the bus station into a new building, replace it with a mixed-use downtown hub and build a train station.
The new bus station would be in the parking lot right in front of the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The City Council has approved the more than $2 million sale of the lot to build what it calls a modern transit facility.
"This is exciting and it's big for Roanoke and Roanoke deserves something big," community leader Bev Fitzpatrick said.
Monday's announcement about big-time development downtown is still the talk of the town.
"I think it has a tremendous opportunity to do a lot of things that we need to have done," Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick has played a part in downtown development for decades and was instrumental in establishing the Campbell Court bus station back in the '80s, but he says the needs have changed.
"This really takes something that's not reached its potential and gives us an opportunity to see incredible development, job creation, quality of life--all those things you like to see," Fitzpatrick said.
There are some concerns, though, especially for the area around the bus station's new home. The developer behind West Station Lofts, Beamers, Big Lick Brewing Co. and Tuco's said he's looking into the potential impact of having the new bus station as a neighbor, as is the transportation museum's board of directors.
One concern is parking, but that’s not the only issue.
"We’ve lost significant parking potential and real parking that's right there in that one level," Fitzpatrick said. "There are people who will be concerned about the folks that ride the bus and whether they'll be outside their businesses and all that."
Lots of questions remain unanswered for a massive project that makes the Star City's future seem much brighter.
"It’s like an adventure. Roanoke has seen a lot of things come that we've not taken advantage of. They look much bigger as they leave town. This is one that we need to spend a lot of time and attention on and make sure that we maximize its benefit," Fitzpatrick said.
Click here to learn more about the project and a public hearing where you can weigh in.