Bridges Project Hopes to Connect Downtown With Carilion - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Bridges Project Hopes to Connect Downtown With Carilion

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There is no question Roanoke City leaders are excited about the 23-acre Bridges project. We have had a lot of rain, so the construction site is muddy, but it is still moveable and full of activity. Right now Jo Bandy Company in Roanoke is prepping the site.

Bridges project manager Aaron Ewert says hiring local companies for work is important to the project developers, and 150 local workers will be employed as a part of the initial phases of construction.

The plan for the apartment building that will have more than 150 units is on track, in spite of recent rain in Roanoke.

"We are still on target," Ewert says. "We believe we can get that done. Obviously we are still trying to work under the gun for the medical school folks and the class coming in next year."

Many of the buildings on the site have received preliminary historic designation. That historic classification is expected to be official in September. That designation will help with development costs for those old buildings. One of them is part of the first phase of construction next to the apartment building site.

Building plans include:

  • 4800-square-foot restaurant; right now two local restaurant owners and one regional restaurant owner have letters of intent to occupy the restaurant space
  • A proposed coffee house next door has one letter of intent being considered

Ewert has high expectations for the location across from Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Research Institute over the next 10 to 15 years. "Eventually, this is going to be $150 million across the street," he says, "and we are going to be another $150 million all the way down to Walnut Street."

Walnut Street Bridge, the bridge on Jefferson Street, and a third bridge in front of Roanoke Memorial Hospital are inspiration for the development's name.

In addition to the physical bridges, the concept is to bridge two downtown locations. The area near V.T.C. has recently been designated as downtown. The name also reflects a goal of connecting surrounding neighborhoods.

In addition to the medical community and downtown, the surrounding natural beauty is expected to be a major driver for success because a major part of the development focuses on the Roanoke River and recreation associated with it.