“A great sadness, almost like a loss of a family member.” Vinton prepares for downtown demolition

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 4:46 PM EDT
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VINTON, Va. (WDBJ) - Seven buildings could be demolished in Vinton after a fire last summer.

Only memories remain from the old D.R. Music building. After a fire in July, the building was demolished.

“A great sadness, almost like a loss of a family member,” said Angie Chewning.

Chewning is Vinton’s Chamber of Commerce executive director. She says it’s devastating for everyone to know at least four additional buildings are going to be torn down.

“A lot of us all of us that have grown up here remember those buildings, not only what they are today but what they were years ago,” added Chewning.

Vinton’s Town Manager Richard “Pete” Peters says a structural survey revealed five buildings are a total loss. The demolition may affect two more properties. In total, as many as 7 buildings could be affected. But officials will not know until the four extra buildings are torn down.

“It’s kind of a domino effect. We had the initial fire property and the adjacent property both on Lee and on Pollard,” said Peters. “Because of the close proximity and in some cases even shared walls and share utilities.”

A lane on East Lee Avenue has been closed to traffic since December, 2022. Many businesses WDBJ7 spoke with told us they had been struggling since the fire. Peters encourages everyone to support them.

“We have other parking lots and other streets that are open,” added Peters. “And so, we encourage the visitors, the customers that are used to coming to Vinton, to continue to come.”

He says officials will be creating demos for reconstruction while keeping the same historic feeling, something Chewning is excited to see.

“It’s that nostalgia and that history that we’ve all grown accustomed to and hate to lose,” explained Chewning. “But I think some new growth is going to be great and it’ll help build things even better.”

Peters says additional detours will be added in the next several weeks. He recommends everyone who commutes to plan ahead.