Roanoke City Council approves ordinance to build new transit station

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — City officials in Roanoke are one step closer to building a new bus station in the heart of downtown.

During the meeting on Monday, Nov. 16, Roanoke City Council discussed zoning amendments to construct the new transit facility. In a unanimous 7-0 vote, the council approved the plan, allowing them to use any downtown property without the need for special exceptions.

“We were able to come together and recognize the importance of maintaining our central transfer station in the downtown area,” said Councilman Bill Bestpitch.

The approval paves the way for city officials to demolish the current Campbell Court bus station and build a new facility at the Brandon Lot, located along Salem Avenue and Third Street. According to Bestpitch, the former station will ultimately be redeveloped with new retail, office, and residence spaces — at least a $25-million-dollar investment.

Just a block away from the Brandon Lot sit dozens of local businesses and restaurants.

Some business owners say they’re excited for the business the new transit center could bring them.

“It would probably bring us some more customers. I know, for a lot of skateboarders, the bus is the most accessible form of transportation for trips and stuff,” said Farrin Swartz, manager at the Flying Panther Skate Shop.

However, other business owners share concerns.

The Salem Avenue Neighborhood Business Association has been vocal against the project in the past. A representative denied WFXR News’ request for an interview and statement.

WFXR News also reached out to Bill Chapman, a Richmond-based developer who has been behind several projects along Salem Avenue including the Fulton Motor Lofts and The Lofts at West Station. He has yet to respond to our request.

Bestpitch says one of the many concerns that have been brought to his attention is a decreased property value once the Campbell Court station is torn down. By analyzing investments at six different buildings nearby, he says it’s not a reflection of what has happened in the past.

“The investments in those six buildings alone have increased their assessed values between 1990 and 2020 by almost $28 million dollars, so there’s been a lot of investment in that property right there,” Bestpitch said.

Another concern includes excessive noise in association with more buses; however, Swartz says it’s nothing to worry about.

“It’s really something we’re not already dealing with now. It’s a really busy street right here. The bus station is only a block, currently, from where it would be now. It won’t be too bad,” said Swartz.

While city officials are focusing their efforts on building the new transit facility at the Brandon Lot, Bestpitch says they’re still searching for other properties closer to downtown.

Construction of the new bus station is expected to begin the summer of 2021.

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