Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Group Plans To Renovate S&W Cafeteria

The old S&W is the Downtown Sports Club now^

This is what the entryway looks like today and ... ^

... This is what it will look like when it's renovated^

A local group of four building professionals headed by Spectrum Design President John Garland has purchased the building at 16 W. Church Ave. now housing the Downtown Sports Club and the former home of the original S&W Cafeteria with plans to plans to renovate it.

The Group, 16 W. Church LLC, which includes Garland and four members of his firm, plans to renovate the 37,000 square-foot facility to provide healthy living amenities for downtown residents, including an upscale convenience store/grocer and pharmacy, for which they are soliciting interest for an owner/operator. They paid $425,000 for the building.

The StayWell Marketplace is what Garland hopes to create with the building, reflecting its healthy emphasis--which will include a grocery store and pharmacy, something downtown residents have wanted for some time. “Roanoke has experienced a boom in downtown living, but the amenities that suburban living offers have been slower to follow,” says Garland. “This building is in a perfect location to provide healthy living goods and services. In restoring it, we are excited to not only reinvigorate a city landmark, but offer downtown residents something that will make their experience more enjoyable.”

Spectrum, which has five buildings on Valley Business FRONT's FRONTList15: Best Buildings list in this month's issue, has a history of sensitive and sensible renovations in the Roanoke Valley and, recently, in Rocky Mount.

Initial renderings include a convenience store or grocery store and pharmacy, light food service, market stalls and a potential renovation of the Downtown Sports Club into an upscale exercise boutique.

The group is looking at other "healthy" businesses like a dentistry practice, massage therapy, and personal training. A chiropractor’s office will remain.

The building will be restored to its original 1951 architecture, most of which is intact, according to Garland. There are elements that need verification and the partners are asking the public to help identify those lost historic features. Garland is looking for the best photography which details the building’s front elevation, including the original row of lighting under the front canopy and the original S&W signs, as well as photographs that illustrate the interior entrance, including the finishes and lighting.

Photos will be posted to an online gallery on Spectrum Design’s Facebook page and a “Downtown Amenity” package valued at $500 will go to the provider of the image that best reflects the building’s former life.

“When the city first established the downtown historic district, the S&W Building was not quite 50 years old and was not listed as qualifying for historic tax credits, something that can shave tens of thousands of dollars off the restoration process. Now we have the opportunity to take advantage of this process, which will make a huge difference. Historically it has been one of Roanoke’s most revered locations--in the 1950s and 1960s the SW Cafeteria was where families ate while shopping downtown.

"If we can find documentation of these few features that have faded over the years, we can ensure the renovation is completed properly,” Garland says. Photographs can be submitted to John Garland by e-mail to or by mail to 10 Church Ave SE, Plaza Suite 1, Roanoke Virginia, 24011. A winner will be notified on Monday, October 5.

Dan Smith contributed to this story and took the photos.

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