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Sunday, May 26, 2013
I have been a Blacksburg resident since 1973 and have seen many changes occur in the town. I spent several hours going over the revised proposal for Midtown Village. There are many positive changes that are an improvement over existing roads, traffic flow and the way we perceive existing buildings. For one, the frontage on South Main Street is appealing with its setback and curving wall leading into the development and the Miller Street Promenade leading to the Village Green. The proposed layout of commercial buildings at the front with concealed parking away from the street is very pleasing.
The concern about this residential area becoming just student housing has been addressed as well as possible. There is an effort to attract seniors to this development, just as there has been before with Kent Square and the existing condos adjacent to this property. What have been the results? It is difficult to balance costs against something that has previously been planned for and has not materialized. Much of what surrounds the old Blacksburg Middle School property is rental, some not so attractive.
Berryfield is a student condo development that has generated very few complaints and is an attractive addition to that side of the street. Does anyone remember what it was like when the school was there with football games, bright lights and traffic congestion? The deeding of green space for town parks within the development meets the input many of us requested at previous public planning and design meetings. The extension of the Huckleberry Trail is an excellent idea, making biking and walking much safer than it is now.
The request for public funds in the form of tax rebates must be considered. The state gives tax breaks to attract industry. Why shouldn’t the town give something to help attract commercial development here?
Much has been made about Jeanne Stosser, managing member of Fiddler’s Green Partners, and the South Main Street development debacle of several years ago. No one knows how that development would have eventually been completed because it ended in bankruptcy. Right now, it is a much improved entrance to town compared to the mess that was there. She is still willing to work with the town and bring the commercial enterprise here that we need to help generate revenue and keep from raising property taxes and adding fees to everything. There does not appear to be anyone else looking at developing this site. The plan Stosser is proposing meets so many of the master plan’s goals and will meet the needs of many residents. It would be such a welcome change from the last 10 years of seeing this property just sit there and become more run-down. Please try to work with this developer; give her a chance without prejudice.
I would also like to add that everyone supports the idea of developers bringing the new IMAX theater to the South Main Street development. This would be a great attraction to that end of town and would help attract businesses. In no way will it detract from our existing downtown or the Lyric Theatre. It will add a new dimension, just as the new Center for the Arts will for the north end of town.
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