Oct. 27 is first public meeting on downtown’s future.
Roanoke, VA – The City of Roanoke’s Department of Planning, Building, and Development is currently in the process of updating the Downtown Plan. Public meetings to gather input will be held on Oct. 27 and Nov. 28 at the City Market Building beginning at 6 p.m.
The department is looking for input and ideas from citizens to help update the vision for the downtown area for the next 20 years. The plan will seek to address the rise of downtown living and the importance of public spaces and amenities. It will also focus on successful small businesses, major employers, and other initiatives that help establish downtown Roanoke as a reg
Roanoke City Council served a $120,000 “melting pot of vision” to the architectural team of Cunningham Quill Architects of Washington, D.C on Monday.
. Lee Quill stated, “we understand our charge here and it is not to reinvent the wheel.” They plan to use the previous studies as a framework along with Council’s direction that will then culminate in initial schematic design(s) for Council’s consideration by March 16th.
“We are not about doing studies that sit on a shelf… we design to build,” said Quill. Anita Price took the first turn asking Quill “what kind of vision do you have in mind?” Quill responded that he was supposed to be asking Council’s vision. One direction they were looking for was a cost range so they could produce a cost analysis for each schematic. It is unclear whether they received an answer.
Price later said she would like to see the Market building function as a “community hub.” She recalled past uses of events like “after prom parties.” Price wanted to make sure that the school children on field trips to Center in the Square could be accommodated as they eat at the food court and require a substantial amount of seating.
Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea wanted to make sure that the “vendors are comfortable” with the plans.
. Councilman Alvin Nash, the only golfer on council, likened the Market building to a “signature hole” on a golf course. The building “is what it is” said Nash and he did not want to see it made into something different. He wanted to see the current vendors be able to expand and grow.
. Councilman David Trinkle wanted to see vendors have autonomous control of their space. “I am a big fan of the mezzanine,” said Trinkle. He continues his support of balcony seating on all sides of the building and working it into a step plaza coming off the Hotel Roanoke bridge.
Councilman Court Rosen asserted that “it is against the mission of a local government to be in the property rental business … it should be self-sustaining.” Rosen wanted outside management of the building. He did not want to see it done with minimal resources to just “do it.”
. How the vendors fit into the ultimate design resonated through most of the Council’s remarks.
. Architectural team member, Chris Morrison, said that so far the team had received more of what was not wanted for the building then a vision. Later that afternoon the architectural teams met with vendors. The team was empathetic to their weariness of the subject.
. Anita Wilson, co-owner of Burger in the Square spoke later to architect, Lee Quill saying that Downtown Roanoke Inc.’s suggestion about moving the vendors to the 3rd floor during renovation was not feasible. There is “no hood system” for one thing, said Wilson. She also thought that “working around the vendors” during renovation wouldn’t work either. She wondered how they would be able to operate without water and electricity for extended periods of time.
Market building and city’s capacity for debt – Speaking with Ann Shawver, Director of Finance, following the Market discussion revealed her continued concern regarding the issuance of addition debt by the city. In the preliminary 2010 budget briefing Shawver stated that “if the market building comes on as a priority capital improvement project (CIP) than something else has to come off.” Shawver said Monday that her statement was meant to advise Council that the self-imposed 10% debt limit was upon them and that action would be required by Council to raise the limit to accommodate any additional CIP debt funding. When asked how raising the debt limit to for example, 10.5%, would effect the city’s exemplary “AA” bond rating, Shawver explained she would be advising Council on the risk of doing so at this time. She stated that Moody’s rating agency had already put the city’s bond rating on “watch.” Agencies sometimes issue a “credit watch” to suggest that a bond rating may soon be lowered (downgraded) or raised (upgraded.)