New businesses are breathing new life into the Wasena neighborhood in Southwest Roanoke.
Several of the formerly vacant buildings are now home to many new shops, but with the impending Wasena bridge replacement coming, the growth could take a hit.
Driving down Main Street into the Wasena neighborhood looks a lot different than it did a few years ago.
“It’s always nice to see new things in the area. Most of this stuff has been closed down for a while, so it’s really refreshing seeing all of these new and up and coming businesses,” said Gabriel Wright, who lives in the neighborhood.
There are a few new businesses, one being RND coffee shop, which stands for Roasters Next Door. The Co-Owner, Steffon Randolph, says he hopes to bring a unique addition to Roanoke’s coffee scene.
“In a lot of places there’s a neighborhood coffee shop for each particular neighborhood and here I thought there was maybe a gap, where Wasena didn’t have a local coffee shop where somebody could roll out of bed and just walk around the corner,” Steffon Randolph said.
One thing that may impact the new growth is the upcoming Wasena bridge replacement. It would shut down the Main Street entrance to the new businesses.
“I think it will be rough, especially cause this is the main route to all these newer businesses. So I think everybody is going to get less and less people because you’re going to have to go more out of your way to get to them,” said Wright.
But the brothers who own RND are looking at the coffee cup as half full.
“I think the bridge closing down will be a unique opportunity to engage more with the people around here,” said Steffon Randolph.
His brother Quincy agrees.
“Foot traffic, traffic from the greenway, bikers, the neighborhood kind of embracing the closing and almost kind of rally together to support local businesses,” Quincy said.
The brothers are hoping to brew a close-knit community feeling, that anyone would want to be a part of.
The RND coffee shop is expected to open sometime this month.
Construction for the new bridge is slated for Spring of 2022. The city staff is analyzing the feedback they received during the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 public input sessions. They will re-engage the public in fall 2019 to present the findings and updated information about the project.