ROANOKE, Va. – George’s Flowers on Franklin Road used to have a Ramada Inn as a next-door neighbor back in the day.
George’s co-owner Doug Lindamood said he is relieved to see it’s now a pile of rubble.
“I remember when this hotel was practically brand new,” said Lindamood. “Over the years, the property went, down, down, down, down, down.”
Lindamood said, as a result, crime in the area increased.
“We had vandalization of property, including some of our vehicles. We had theft of things,” said Lindamood. “We had people harassing our employees and our customers. You just never knew from day to day what you were going to experience when you came in.”
The city bought the property in April for $3.6 million thanks to a FEMA grant. Crews had to remove asbestos before demolition began in August.
Marcus Aguilar, a civil engineer for the city, said it’s a flood zone.
“That building inhibited flood passage through here. Just the removal of that building, by itself, is going to be a benefit to the properties and surrounding area,” said Aguilar.
By mid-November, the demolition site will be a greenspace, building off of the other outdoor amenities all around like the Roanoke River, the Greenway, and River’s Edge Park.
City officials plan to send out a public input survey to get ideas from the community to make the new space even better.
“Because it’s such a flood-prone property, we’re really limited in what we can actually do on the property. We don’t want to put, really, structures back because if we do, they could be flooded again. So, we’ll have to get kind of creative as to, you know, how the site is used in the future,” said Aguilar.
Greenway users said the more greenspace, the better.
“I never liked [the Ramada Inn], really. That was an ugly-looking thing to start with,” said Roanoke resident Stephen Brailo. “So I hope there’s going to be some kind of improvement.”
“The more of these derelict buildings that can be removed and greenspace created, the better for everybody,” said Bob Clement, another Roanoke resident.