Community organizations and city partner on Northwest Roanoke initiative

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 7:43 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A plan to revitalize northwest Roanoke and improve the lives of residents there is coming into focus.

Tuesday morning, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, the city of Roanoke and other community partners announced plans for a new center that will include a grocery store, a high school for adults, a wellness center and banking services.

The plan will repurpose the building that has served as Goodwill headquarters, and restore services to Northwest Roanoke.

Richmond Vincent is President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Valleys.

“We are not creating something brand new,” Vincent told WDBJ7. “We are not doing something that hasn’t been done before. We’re restoring this community back to what it was once before, before urban renewal.”

The plans have been in the works for several years, as community activists laid the groundwork to bring a grocery store to the neighborhood. With an adult high school, wellness center and banking services, neighborhood advocates say it can have a much bigger impact.

“This is a place of hope, a place where we can have jobs in the community. That’s how I made it,” said longtime resident and neighborhood advocate Richard Chubb.

“We would like for it to be a Roanoke renaissance,” said Marion Ware with the NW Food Access Initiative. “We would like for businesses, like the ones across the street, black-owned businesses to have the support and sustainability to grow.”

The project will cost more than $20 million, with $10 million coming from the city’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“The sort of icing on the cake came when the citizens advisory panel met to talk about how do we spend our ARPA dollars,” said Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell. “And this project was number one. It was at the top both in priority and in dollars that they recommended the council commit.”

The services that Goodwill currently offers on the site will continue, but in a new location.

Construction on Melrose Plaza could begin in the second quarter of 2023, with a goal of completing the project by the end of 2024.