Downtown Roanoke: Urban Renewal, Historic Preservation, and Planning for the Future

APA Virginia Chapter


Tuesday, July 18, 2017
3:45 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. EDT

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Like many other cities, Roanoke’s downtown has gone through cycles of change and repositioning. Originally the retail center for Southwest Virginia, Downtown Roanoke declined with the advent of suburbia and suburban shopping malls. Because of this decline, some of the downtown buildings and surrounding neighborhoods were razed during an era of urban renewal. Although the urban renewal projects were designed to bolster and support downtown, they had a lasting effect on the communities that once lived in these areas and created barriers between downtown and some of the remaining neighborhoods. Ultimately, Downtown Roanoke again prospered by focusing on their uniqueness, with a particular focus on historic preservation and adaptive reuse. Today, Downtown Roanoke is a celebration of old and new and as the community plans for the next twenty years, they see opportunities to make better connections between neighborhoods and other growing areas of downtown.

This session will be split into three sections, with an initial introduction and a presentation from local residents on the effect of Urban Renewal on their community. The next section will discuss Roanoke’s historic downtown and the importance of Historic Tax Credits in the revitalization that has resulted in many adaptive reuse projects. Finally, the City will present on its newly drafted Downtown Plan and provide a glimpse into the community’s vision for Downtown Roanoke and what changes the City hopes to see occur over the next several years.


Alison Blanton

Confirmed Speaker

Alison is responsible for cultural and historic preservation projects undertaken by Hill Studio. She has worked with planners, architects, economists, attorneys, and developers on Historic Tax Credit projects in Virginia and beyond. She has completed National Register nominations and architectural/district surveys, and consults frequently with State Historic Preservation Officers ... Read More

Reginald Shareef

Confirmed Speaker

Reginald Shareef holds the PhD in Public Administration & Policy from the Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP) at Virginia Tech. He is a Professor of Political Science/Public Administration at Radford University and an Adjunct Professor at VT's CPAP where he teaches courses in Public Personnel Administration and Organization Sensemaking. In the early 1991s, Dr ... Read More

Ronald Leftwich, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Wayne Leftwich, AICP is the Senior City Planner at the City of Roanoke, VA where he is responsible for long range planning initiatives, the City’s Brownfield program, and staff support for the City’s Architectural Review Board and Planning Commission. He is currently working on the City’s Downtown ... Read More

Contact Info

Eldon James,