Blacksburg getting public input on downtown strategy project

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Some serious work is getting ready to kick off in Blacksburg to revitalize the downtown area. It's something many people living, working, and visiting are talking about.

The town is focusing on the eastern and western parts of downtown, including where Virginia Tech is.

Monday was the first meeting where the public told the town and consulting team what they want to see as more is coming in.

Assistant to the Blacksburg Town Manager Matt Hanratty said, "Virginia Tech is growing actively, and we're going to have more people in our community and if we don't actively plan for that growth in our community and in our downtown, it's going to happen around us."

More than 100 people packed the meeting to say what they want, while the consulting team says what can be done. Then whatever matches is what will be put into the plans for the next decade.

"What does parking look like in the future? Is there structured parking in the Progress Street area? That's something that's on the table for discussion," Hanratty said. "And how people get around downtown from a pedestrian standpoint once you're able to park somewhere, bike somewhere, how does transit interact downtown?"

It's all work business owners are excited about, because it will hopefully bring clientele into the area that's not currently visiting much.

Michelle Raub, owner of t.r. Collection said, "The talk of really getting young professionals and young families down here that we would have opportunities for them to live in Blacksburg, Downtown Blacksburg, and really make this a huge part of their daily lives."

One of the best ways to do that, the Town said, is taking advantage of the green space that's already downtown and add more to it. That way there's more to do downtown than is offered right now.

"Spaces where people can just hang out and have a conversation, as well as shop and dine and see a movie at the Lyric," Hanratty said.

The public input will continue until mid-January.

People can learn more and give their comments here.

There will be two more meetings, likely in March and May, Hanratty said. After the final meeting, the plans will be presented to Town Council.

Once that happens, anchor, work can begin to liven up this downtown and bring in things people have been asking for for a while, and some things they maybe hadn't even thought of.

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