By DAN SMITH
John Garland took another step today toward reviving Design '79, the 30-year-old effort to re-define and renovate downtown Roanoke. Garland was at the old S&S Cafeteria building on Church Ave. to help cut the ribbon for the first tenant of the renovated building.
Oasis Chirpractic has been in the building since the early 1990s, but it has re-committed to the new design and hopes to be part of a growing trend in downtown living. Garland noted, in his brief remarks, that there are now more than 500 people living in downtown Roanoke and "people who live down here need and want amenities." His intention, he says, is to help provide them with the S&S, which he hopes will house restaurants, a food store and other services.
The building, which began as a Trailways bus station in the 1940s, has most recently been the home of a series of health clubs after being a cafeteria for many years. A good bit of the space in the large building will go for condominiums or apartments.
The renovation is one of three Garland and various partners has going in a two-block area. He is overhauling spaces at 108 Campbell and 209 First Street, primarily for living spaces. He has two condos under contract in the Campbell building and says another will sign as soon as his contract on the building is official. "We have had some serious lookers for the second floor at 108 and the third floor at 209," he says. "This has exceeded our expectations."
The slow pace of filling what is being called 16 West (the S&S building) has not exceeded his expectations and part of that, he says, is because the City of Roanoke offered vendors in the City Market Building, which is under renovation for the next nine months, $20,000 in money for equipment and other facilities if they return to the building when it re-opens. "I thought I might ask [Councilman Sherman] Lea if the city will chip in $20,000 for our vendors," Garland said, only half joking. He said he was "not sure it's a good thing" for the city to be competing with private enterprise.