City investment in cleaning up northwest Roanoke proves successful

Efforts will continue over next few years

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Revitalization efforts continue in what's known as a high-crime neighborhood in the Star City.

Over the past three years, the city has focused on cleaning up the Melrose-Orange target area.

Feeding America Southwest Virginia's Community Solutions Center has been up and running on Melrose Avenue for a few months now. It's a big change from what used to be in the space: Ms. Choc's Lounge – a known trouble spot for police.

"That was one of the big goals was to turn this facility, which had had some unfortunate incidents in its past, into something hopeful and positive and beneficial to the northwest Roanoke community," Feeding America Southwest Virginia marketing and communications coordinator Amanda Allen said.

The center is now used to train culinary students in need of jobs and prepare meals for children in need.

"We're looking to support folks in any way we can," Allen said.

The center is just one piece of a bigger puzzle to revitalize northwest Roanoke.

Over the past three years, the city has invested most of its federal funding in the Melrose-Orange target area. That's led to 27 new homeowners, 54 renovations and communitywide efforts to clean up 38 tons of trash.

“It's an opportunity to kind of get rid of some of the eye sores in the neighborhood and the things that people are concerned about," Roanoke director of planning, building and development Chris Chittum said.

The city plans to continue investing millions of dollars in the Melrose-Orange target area over the next few years.

"We’re looking at continuing to do the housing rehab and new construction for the next couple of years and also look at some infrastructure projects, like street crossings and bus stops and things like that, where we can go in and make visible improvements in the neighborhood," Chittum said.

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