Renovations in Downtown Blacksburg start in August

Changes are coming to Downtown Blacksburg this summer

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Starting in August, Draper Road in Downtown Blacksburg is expected to get a makeover.

“We’re looking to improve Draper Road,” said Matt Hanratty, Blacksburg Deputy Town Manager. “We closed it during COVID...Just to create some outdoor space so people could gather safely. It was very well received so we want to spruce it up a little bit.”

Folks in Blacksburg are seeing renovations all throughout downtown this summer.

One area in downtown was converted into a pedestrian area a few years ago, and officials said they plan to make it easier for businesses thereby improving current conditions.

“It looks more, construction zone-type now,” said Hanratty. “I mean, it’s very functional, but we want to green it up.”

I was curious about what some of the local businesses thought about the area and the upcoming changes, so I went downtown to ask their opinions.

“Well, a pedestrian area is great, but the number one thing in business is you need customers,” said John Cline, owner of John’s Cameras and Records off Draper Road.

“I think it was a good thing to have when COVID hit probably,” said Michael Buchanan, a restaurant owner in Blacksburg. " [It] gave people a place since everyone had to dine outside, but COVID, to me, is long gone.”

They said while they understood the pedestrian area when it came along, it has also made attracting new customers hard since folks can’t drive to the businesses, and there is limited parking in the area.

“It makes it rather difficult to run a business in downtown Blacksburg,” said Cline. “I mean, I hope we all can survive. It’s been a pretty rough year. I’ll compare business this summer to business in the 80s.”

The first phase of renovations is expected to start after the annual Steppin’ Out festival.

Here in the next couple of years, they are looking to completely redo the area.

About the Author

Thomas grew up right here in Roanoke and is a graduate of Salem High School and Virginia Tech.

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