Roanoke City Council hears update on Evans Spring future development

While there is no finalized development in place, consultants are starting to get a better idea of what could go on the 150 acres of developable land

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City Council got an update on the city’s largest plot of undeveloped land.

Evans Spring is an area of approximately 150 acres still undeveloped in Roanoke. The land sits between Valley View Mall and the Melrose-Rugby neighborhood.

The city has wanted to see the land developed for years but nothing has ever really been done to it. 10 News went through the history of the area and all the attempts to try and develop it.

The latest push to develop the land really started at the beginning of this year. In early March, a large-scale community engagement meeting brought in over 100 people to talk about their thoughts and concerns over developing the land.

One area of concern for Theresa Gill-Walker who lives in Northwest Roanoke is the environmental impact.

“I understand that they say development is necessary but don’t take away the essence of what makes Roanoke what it is,” Gill-Walker.

Another area of concern is people being forced from their homes. Roanoke has a deep-rooted history with Urban Renewal when Black homeowners were forced to move in the 60s and 70s.

Roanoke City Councilwoman, Stephanie Moon Reynolds, says people don’t want to see history repeat itself.

“They moved out of Gainsboro and moved over into the upper Northwest, primarily where you’re looking at Evans Spring … so to them, it’s almost like a déjà vu,” Moon Reynolds said.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, the consultants talked about everything in terms of traffic, environmental impacts, economic impacts, etc.

The consultants say the plot of land is best suited for commercial properties because it lies so close to Interstate 581. However, many residents don’t want to see much development at all. Some say if there is development, it needs to be very small scale.

Initial proposals appear to be a mixed-use area ... some commercial, some residential. When it comes to residential properties, the consultants say it will be more single-story complexes rather than high-rise apartment buildings.

A big part of the development is the connection to the interstate. There are several ways developers can go about connecting Evans Spring to Interstate 581 but one idea that peaked Vice Mayor Joe Cobb’s interest was connecting the commercial side of the area to 581 and not the residential.

“The access to that would be very limited you’d still have the opportunity to protect and enhance the environmental assets that are there which I think is really important,” Cobb said.

It’s still very early on in the development stages with no true proposal finalized. Tuesday’s city council meeting was an opportunity for the consultants to provide an update on some of the feedback they’ve gotten.

They are continuing discussions with the public on the matter at a meeting Thursday at William Fleming High School at 7 p.m.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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