Salem City Council weighs in on HopeTree development proposal

HopeTree wants to sell a portion of its campus to developers to build hundreds of homes and small retail businesses

SALEM, Va. – Salem’s City Council has some concerns regarding the proposal to develop the HopeTree campus.

10 News previously told you about HopeTree’s vision for the campus back in January. Last week, dozens of speakers expressed their concerns about the proposal at a planning commission meeting.

On Wednesday, the proposal went before the planning commission again along with the city council.

Several council members brought up concerns over the commercial aspect of the development. It’s a theme that’s been consistent between both meetings on the matter.

“We’ve tried to build up our downtown area for years,” Vice-Mayor Jim Wallace said. “We want to allow commercial up there and pull away from what’s the core of our town and that’s really what’s a lot of the opposition.”

The proposal calls for up to 340 homes, 60 hotel rooms, 15,000 square feet of office space and 7,500 square feet of restaurant space.

It can be a double-edged sword for businesses already in downtown Salem because the development would bring competition but also tons of people.

Alek Cooper, a manager at Frank’s Pizza, can see both sides.

“Having more people is always nice but then of course, like you mentioned, having other businesses... that is extra competition but then it depends on what the businesses are,” Cooper said.

HopeTree’s president, Jon Morris, is excited about the proposal since it would restore some of the existing infrastructure and buildings a part of HopeTree’s long history. As for the commercial aspect, he’s on board with the competition.

“The more competition you have the more businesses you bring to the area is better for everyone,” Morris said.

There’s been no action taken on the proposal yet. The next step is for the planning commission to give their recommendation at their March meeting.

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.