BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Tech Foundation is asking the town to change zoning regulations so it could build a six-story building on the edge of downtown that would feature retail, classroom space and a rooftop restaurant.
The building would be on the site of the former Buffalo Wild Wings near the intersection of North Main Street and Prices Fork Road. The foundation hasn’t submitted formal plans yet, but is instead requesting a zoning ordinance change that would allow it to submit a formal conditional use permit in the future.
A zoning ordinance amendment proposal submitted by town staff to the planning commission reads that the foundation would tear down the former Buffalo Wild Wings Building as well as another building that is currently home to Five Guys and the Blacksburg Wine Lab.
Buffalo Wild Wings moved to a new location on Prices Fork Road last year. The new building would not affect that location.
The foundation has indicated the building could be up to 235,716 square feet. For reference, the nearby North End Center on Tech’s campus is 141,000 square feet.
“We’re excited about it [the development project] and we think it will be a great addition to Blacksburg,” Tech Foundation CEO John Dooley said. “We want to bring something here that’ll bring an added value to the town.”
Dooley said the foundation’s goal is to break ground on the project late this year or early 2020.
A letter submitted to the town by the WM Jordan Company on behalf of the foundation lays out the foundation’s goals and plans for the “Gilbert Street Mixed Use Project.”
The building would host a “national mercantile retailer,” restaurants on the main level and on the rooftop that features an outdoor terrace, space for computer science faculty, behavioral health faculty including counseling offices and the Outreach and International Affairs division, according to the letter. There would also be additional retail space for two or three tenants. The retail spaces would face Gilbert and Turner Streets.
Those university uses aren’t necessarily finalized, but the second through fifth floors will have some sort of university use, Dooley said.
The brick building would feature metal panels with limited Hokie Stone accents. The building would include ground level and elevated parking, street level retail and four floors of office space. The rooftop restaurant would have a total capacity of up to 350 people and would include an event venue.
As for the two tenants of buildings that would be demolished under the plan, Dooley said the foundation is working with them to find locations locally. He did not rule out that they could move into the new building.
“We’re committed to working with the ownership of the Wine Lab and Five Guys to keep them in the local market,” he said.
The foundation also plans to enhance “the urban environment adjacent to” nearby St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall complex. The WM Jordan letter suggests a public green space between the historic museum and activity center owned by the town that could host outdoor recreation and community events.
The project should also offer better pedestrian connectivity between downtown and Virginia Tech, as is the goal of Blacksburg’s downtown master plan, Dooley said.
The goal is to bring in new companies that bring something different to the town, he said.