Developer rehabbing three Main Street Village buildings in Wasena

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - The Main Street Village in the Wasena neighborhood in Roanoke is about to get a facelift.

Developer and Roanoke City Councilman John Garland has purchased three buildings on Main Street and is rehabbing them.

"The plan is to historically preserve and renovate them, then lease them to small businesses," said Garland.

A number of people expressed interest to Garland in leasing the buildings, even before the sale was closed.

The three buildings will have new electric, plumbing, new HVAC, and bathrooms.

However, Garland has run into a small snag in the plan.

The demolition of one of the buildings has been put on hold, AICP Director of Planning, Building, and Development Chris Chittum said.

"Once work started, they found that underlying deterioration of the structure was worse than they thought," said Chittum.

"That put the project beyond the scope of work of the permit. Work has been put on hold temporarily until a revised permit can be issued."

For now, signs that say "Stop Work" in big bold letters are posted at the site.

The legal notice was posted on February 9 and orders that workers cease and desist from the demo work, remove all debris and equipment from sidewalk to street, and can continue to clean up.

Garland said they knew the building was in bad shape. The floors and roof were rotting, and the brick front was leaning toward the street.

"But we didn't know it was as bad as it was," Garland said. They are currently testing the building's materials for asbestos.

Garland says once the building is demolished, they will build it back up with the original brick and materials.

Four businesses currently call The Main Street Village home. Many consider the area on the upswing, but still some like Roanoke resident Mark Karkenny describe the village this way: "A little run-down. Could use some work."

Karkenny says Grandin Village is one of his favorite spots in Roanoke. He hopes the Main Street Village can turn out like Grandin Village.

"They got to do it right. If they just go halfway, nobody is going to show any interest," said Karkenny.

Chase Mabry is the owner of The Barber Shop on Main.
He doesn't mind the messy look of the demolished building a few doors down.

"It'll be way prettier when it's done," he said.

Mabry's business has been in that location for a year and a half. He feels confident he picked a great location.

"Wasena is a very up and coming area," said Mabry.

He's excited about more small businesses joining them in the future.

"I'd like to see some stuff that would go with the businesses that are already here."

As for what businesses should move in, Garland explained the area is zoned for a commercial neighborhood district, so there are several options.

"I enjoy bringing community villages across town, at one time it was more vibrant," said Garland. "Anything that supports neighborhood services and what neighborhoods need."

He said he expects to see a coffee shop or restaurant, anything you might see in Grandin Village.

"As developers, we are trying to bring back the vibrancy of these community villages."

Garland hopes to have the three buildings ready to be leased by the end of July.