Couple wants to bring coffeehouse to Roanoke park, some neighbors concerned

ROANOKE, Va. – A Roanoke couple wants to turn an old cabin into a local attraction.

They want to open a coffee shop in Fishburn Park, but they have some opposition from neighbors.

The couple already has a contract with the city, but they’ve applied for rezoning, and their request will go before the planning commission in a little over a week.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to make a Roanoke landmark,” Justin VanBlaricom, a potential owner said. “I mean it’s a community that we grew up in.”

VanBlaricom said he and his wife spent a lot of time in Fishburn Park as kids, so they knew the home would be the perfect spot for their new business.

Meanwhile, neighbors have some concerns about what their purchase of public land could mean for people who walk through and use it often.

“It’s important to protect the public’s interest to open green spaces,” Roanoke resident Freeda Cathcart said.

VanBlaricom said he plans to keep the area open to passerbys.

“The rest of it’s still going to remain accessible to everyone,” VanBlaricom said. “There’s not going to be any no trespassing signs or fences up or anything like that.”

Owen McGuire, president of the Grandin Court Neighborhood Association, said he’s concerned about future potential development and traffic.

“They’re only proposing to use one-third of the acre around there for their coffee shop, and the rest they claim they’re going to leave as open space, yet it will be zoned commercial,” McGuire said. “So after four years they can sell out and develop it further you know through other legal means, so we’re trying to avoid that and protect the city’s interest in parks.”

“I think a lot of the opposition is fearful of what will happen in the future,” VanBlaricom said. “We restricted the deed and the zoning so much that nobody can do anything besides that without going back to the city.”

Both sides said they hope the community will come out and make their voice heard on the project. A planning commission meeting is set for May 8 at 1:30 p.m.

A neighborhood meeting takes place May 2 at 7 p.m. at the Grandin Court Baptist Church.

About the Author:

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.