Change in Blacksburg: Plans for large apartment complex sign of town, university growth

Effects of increased enrollment at Virginia Tech continue

BLACKSBURG, Va. – There are more signs that the town of Blacksburg could be changing due to the effects of increased enrollment at Virginia Tech.

Plans call for a six-story apartment complex to go next to Abby's, near the already busy intersection at North Main and Progress streets.

The complex, called The Standard, would be able to house more than 800 students, according to the current plans, which the company and town leaders are still discussing. There would be commercial space and a parking garage, all within walking distance of campus.

“The scale of it is remarkable for a small town,” Planning Commission Chair Andrew Kassoff said.

The town still has to approve the project. There will be a public hearing before that would happen.

The company will try to buy out land from houses and businesses on the selected land.

Town leaders and neighbors said they have questions about what it will look like and what effects it may have.

Many people who live nearby the proposed complex have been keeping up with the development of the plans. It will be within feet of Patrick Adams’ house.

“It’s pretty extreme. You’re going to bring a huge change, not just to our little neighborhood, to Blacksburg, to this entire area of Blacksburg," Adams said.

An access road would connect his street, Montgomery Street Northwest, to the parking garage.

"It goes from being the sophisticated little mountain town that it is to pretty urban," he said.

He’s worried about noise increasing in his neighborhood.

“It’s nice. It’s quiet. It’s not going to be quiet anymore," he said.

This project would join the already-approved plans that have space to accommodate about 3,000 more people in total, according to town Councilman John Bush, who's concerned about the size of the complex.

“It’s big, and to me, scale and context matter. There’s nothing that big anywhere around it," Bush said.

He’s understanding of Virginia Tech’s enrollment increase, but he has concerns about how quickly some of the growth is happening.

"How does that affect the town? How does that affect our neighborhoods?" he said. "Can the town handle that large growth infrastructurewise?"

Bush also said that if more businesses moved into the space instead of a residential area, it could help the tax base.

Town Council members and other town leaders said they're speaking regularly with Virginia Tech about the ongoing changes.

Virginia Tech officials have said it's a good problem to have: more students choosing to attend the university than they expected. The university has already said that due to the limited dorm space, it will change its rules to allow freshmen to live off campus.

The new complex would be located on the 1000 block of North Main Street, from Montgomery Street to Broce Street, across from the YMCA. Abby’s Restaurant and Bar will stay in its current location.

The company, Landmark Properties Inc., is requesting a rezoning for the 5.5 acres. Landmark also built the Retreat.

Kassoff said the project, if it’s approved, could be complete in as little as about a year, but expansion projects at other, already-built apartment complexes like Sturbridge Square Apartments and Terrace View Apartments would take at least two years.