CHRISTIANSBURG — What can the town build for you?

That’s one of the questions posed under the auspices of a $35,000 matching grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Combined with $35,000 in local funding, the $70,000 planning project is intended to help town officials target infrastructure improvements to recruit and retain businesses in three of its commercial districts, as well as draw residents and visitors to those areas, Assistant Town Manager Andrew Warren said.

“We’re at the community input stage,” he said.

Officials have met with business and property owners in the downtown center and the historic Cambria community to gather ideas about what community assets would enhance the those areas and promote economic growth.

Similar meetings are scheduled for next week with commercial stakeholders in what has been termed the “midtown” area along North Franklin Street from Cambria Street to Wade’s Lane.

Warren said part of the work on midtown will be in defining its identity and developing it into something more than just a transportation artery. The planning effort will build on a major $8.5 million project currently underway to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the North Franklin and Cambria Street intersection.

That project will realign several commercial entrances and build sidewalks and bike lanes, as well as install a new traffic light near the Waffle House.

The vision for midtown will also take into account public and historical assets in that area, including the town’s recreation and aquatic centers and the remaining Christiansburg Institute property, which was part of a much larger campus that served the area’s black schoolchildren from 1866-1966.

A proposed Amtrak station is also tentatively sited in the midtown area.

Residents, visitors and commuters are being asked to submit their ideas on all three sections of town through an online survey at

Once public input concludes, the town can work toward designing appropriate projects and applying for Appalachian Regional Commission construction grants, Warren said.

Other New River Valley communities have used similar planning and construction grants for revitalization projects. Narrows was recently awarded a $392,588 construction grant to buy a vacant downtown property that will be converted into an outdoors outfitter to support tourism.

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