Roanoke leaders get first look at concept plan for Gainsboro neighborhood

ROANOKE, Va. – The City of Roanoke is looking at ways to revitalize the Gainsboro neighborhood.

The area is known for its deep-rooted African American history, which was decimated in the 1950s because of urban renewal.

Now, city leaders are trying to find ways to bring the area back to life while remembering its past.

On Monday, Roanoke City Council got a first look at a concept plan which would focus on three areas, Henry Street, Jefferson Street, and the area around the former Claytor Clinic.

The plan looks at ways to create more community spaces, address affordable housing needs, and recreate a vibrant business district, like the area saw in the early 1900s.

“As you all know, Henry Street is really the economic epicenter of the African American community and really a cultural hot spot, nationally. They want to revive the economic epicenter,” said Assistant City Manager, Wayne Leftwich.

City leaders like Mayor Sherman Lea hope to hear from Gainsboro residents so they don’t feel as though these plans will be repeating history.

“We want to dissolve that thought. This is a move we are making an impact there and the citizens know we are aware of what happened in the past but right now we have some exciting things that are going to take place in the future,” said Mayor Lea.

City leaders want to remind people this is only a concept plan and there are many steps before final plans will be approved and construction will begin.

“It’s a work in progress and we want the citizens to be engaged to share with us their thoughts,” said Mayor Lea.

A public hearing for the concept plan will be held at the next Roanoke City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, July 17.

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