Roanoke County, Virginia, stands as the largest metropolitan area in the southwest region of the state. However, economic disturbances and retailer uncertainty have left their mark on Roanoke Valley, causing visible signs of decline and leaving some to wonder if the area can recover. One major culprit is the Tanglewood Mall. Once a bustling center of activity, the mall has struggled alongside others across the country. While the empty storefronts and low traffic are evidence of hard times, Roanoke Valley continues to provide both residents and visitors a high quality of life in its rural and urban areas, not to mention its natural beauty.
Revitalizing Roanoke Valley
But even those positive factors find themselves at risk. That’s why 2016 saw the beginning of a study and eventual plan to revitalize the area known as the 419/Tanglewood corridor to meet the needs of businesses and residents and to attract more of both to Roanoke Valley. After several hearings where current residents and those in the surrounding area voiced their concerns and hopes for the future of the Valley, development began on a plan focused on a common thread that ran throughout those discussions. The plan calls for a new layout of walkways, sidewalks, and bike paths to connect neighborhoods with one another while utilizing once vacant buildings for new mixed-use town centers. This has become known as the 419 Town Center Plan.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, cities and towns across the country focused on building commercial centers and larger roads. The input received during the plan’s development process showed a stronger desire for a tighter sense of community instead, where neighbors would feel closer to each other. Residents have also expressed the desire to attract new businesses to the area by renovating downtown and main street areas.
Renovating Roanoke’s Neighborhoods
The plan also includes efforts to renovate the homes in neighborhoods as well. One such neighborhood is South Peak, which aims to combine luxurious living with Roanoke’s beautiful scenery. Surrounded by wooded areas and spectacular views of the area’s mountains, South Peak hopes to attract new demographics to the area that will help it thrive economically and culturally. At the end of its renovation period, South Peak will boast single-family homes and condos, seven office buildings located conveniently near downtown, and the construction of new retail spaces that will appeal to national retailers. South Peak strives for all of this while remaining connected to and playing a role in the greater 419 area.
As originally conceived, the 419 Town Center Plan to revive the Tanglewood corridor will take a decade. In the years that have passed since those first hearings, interest in the large-scale renovation of the area has continued to gain interest, and not just locally. Areas facing similar dilemmas to Roanoke are looking to the project and closely watching its progress, hoping it may provide a solution for them as well. If it does, neighborhoods like South Peak Roanoke, Virginia may become an increasingly common—and popular.