VINTON, Va. (WFXR) — Downtown Vinton has a new look as crews demolish a handful of buildings that were damaged in a fire last summer.

Construction crews began tearing down buildings on the corner of Pollard Street and Lee Avenue on Monday. They say the entire process will last about four to six weeks.

On Monday, residents watched as buildings that have been there for most of their lives disappeared. Some say it hurts to see but remain hopeful for the future.

A devastating fire last July ended with a total loss for three local businesses that were housed on that corner, D.R. Music, Pollard and Rustic Creations, and the George Nester Edward Jones investment office. The blaze caused an estimated $1.5 million worth of damages.

Executive Director for the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce, Angie Chewning, said, “It’s a sad day for those of us in Vinton, for those of us who grew up here those are landmarks.”
She added, “It’s also a happy thing for a new beginning. Something new is going to come in, something new and improved. I think it’s going to be a really good thing for the town.”

Both lanes on the 100 block of East Lee Avenue will be closed with a detour in place for the next four to six weeks as construction crews complete the demolition. Downtown flower shop, Creative Occasions, says with Easter on the way, they’re re-directing their holiday traffic. Owner, Mark Frye, said, “It’s difficult for us because what we do is delivery so it’s necessary for me to get a vehicle out there every day.”

He said they’re working to make things easier for customers wanting to avoid detours this holiday. “We have made people aware that when they have things to pick up that there are going to be challenges with that. So we can either walk out and meet them where they’re parked or just advise them to make the delivery,” Frye explained.

Creative Occasions and other downtown businesses will be open and accessible during the tear-down process. In the meantime, there will be free public parking at the Vinton Farmers Market and Vinton Baptist Church.