Roanoke hopes development comes to former Heironimus building

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) It's a question that's been buzzing around Roanoke for years. What will ever happen to the former Heironimus department store?

The department store left in 1996.

Trish Foutz said, “It's a crime that it has sat empty.”

She's talking about the old Heironimus Department Store -- a downtown staple for decades.

“It was a lovely place,” she said. “We would spend the whole day just wandering floor to floor.”

Rob Ledger, Roanoke Economic Development Manager, said, “It's like walking back into time… That's how we shopped. That's how America shopped.”

And now the city is trying to help shop for a new owner. They've been marketing the building. And in its most recent downtown plan, the city singled it out as one of the 'discouraging' empty buildings downtown.

“It's really one of the last large iconic buildings that are set for redevelopment,” said Ledger.

Ledger says the former department store building is eligible for historic tax credits, and over the last two years, he's gotten half a dozen people interested in the space. Nothing materialized, though he says it's ripe for redevelopment.

“There are a lot of interested parties,” said Ledger. “It is one of the last iconic large buildings downtown so I think developers are looking at it.

“We need to do something about this empty building,” said Foutz.

People are hoping developers see this empty building as full of potential.

Ledger says we may see an announcement this year. He says the odds are decent, since so many other large buildings downtown have already found new uses.