New life in the works for struggling downtown Buena Vista

The change comes after years of failed plans and declining business

BUENA VISTA, Va. – New life is finally in the works for downtown Buena Vista after years of declining business and failed plans to bring in more development.

Empty storefronts have long been the scene in downtown Buena Vista.

“Actually, we’ve been going through this for a very long time so it’s almost like you get used to it,” said Rebecca Fairchild, owner of Becky’s Bridal and Formal.

Becky’s Bridal and Formal is one of few downtown businesses that’s withstood the test of time for decades, but Fairchild is ready for some progress.

“The more businesses, of course, the more travel so yeah, we’re waiting,” Fairchild said.

She may not have to wait much longer, as revitalization plans are finally moving forward.

The plans aim to make downtown more walkable, more recognizable and more beautiful.

Specific ideas include a main street organization, a town square and moving the library, putting a hotel with coffee shops and meeting areas in its place.

“It has brought a lot of excitement, a lot of cool ideas that allow us to see Buena Vista not just for what it is now and what was in the past, but to really see a new vision for the future and allow us to move forward from that,” said Kristina Ramsey, economic development and marketing coordinator for Buena Vista.

These plans are the result of six months of public input and consultant work dedicated to downtown. That was the city’s move after a big-time developer pulled out.

At the time, Fairchild called the city “absolutely pitiful,” but she feels differently with plans in the works.

“I feel encouraged,” Fairchild said. “When I heard something like this that’s happened that they’re actually going to put some revitalization into the city instead of like taking it out, we are just, we love it.”

Revitalization plans will be presented to City Council Thursday night. The city will then start applying for grants and schedule public hearings to get more input.

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