Old Blacksburg Middle School development to be re-considered by planning commission

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -- When the Blacksburg Planning Commission voted to approve development on the old middle school grounds back in September, it seemed like the long-awaited project was becoming a reality.

But that was nearly six months ago, and with still no action from town council, Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith said the project is in a "timeout."

The application is going back to the planning commission because the council did not reach an agreement with developer Midtown Partners before the six-month time limit.

"When a significant rezoning proposal changes, we need to have another look at it so it'll go back before planning commission," Hager-Smith said.

The current proposal, which includes a mix of commercial, residential and green spaces, hinges on the construction of a parking deck.

In a statement, Midtown Partners said, "market demand and prior concessions made by Midtown eliminate its ability to provide this parking structure. If [a solution] cannot be found, then the Town's desired density and parking structure design must be reduced to facilitate a successful redevelopment of this property, albeit at a smaller scale."

Hager-Smith said the issue boils down to figuring out where that funding will come from.

"Money can solve a lot of problems, and if we don't have enough to accomplish our purposes, that's a problem," she said.

The proposal will now go back for another vote by the planning commission - a delay the mayor thinks could push construction back another year.

But she remains hopeful.

"It remains true that this project is not only in the heart of our community, but in the center of our focus, so we want to see it happen," Hager-Smith said.

The planning commission is tentatively scheduled to have a work session on February 19 and another public hearing on March 5.