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Community Profile | Roanoke


The Roanoke region has seen “really good, consistent growth, better than we’ve had in the past,” says commercial developer and custom home builder Alexander Boone.


Throughout the Roanoke area, a hefty


number of site development projects have received support through GO Virginia, a state-funded economic development initiative set up by senior business leaders to promote private-sector growth and job creation across Virginia. One of those projects is Wood Haven


Technology Park in Roanoke County. A municipally owned business park for high- tech manufacturing, it “has seen a huge amount of development work in the past 18 months,” Hull says. “We have a 53-acre pad that’s ready.” He expects one large user or a couple of smaller ones to claim the site in the coming months. “Readiness is huge,” he says.


In addition to having an inventory of sites prepped for construction, a necessary component for luring new business is a solid workforce. That’s where the area’s outdoor- focused marketing pitch comes in, Hull says. The Roanoke Outside Foundation was created as an offshoot of the regional partnership to promote the area’s array of outdoor activities — everything from hiking and biking to caving and kayaking. Its marketing slogan — “Work Hard, Play Hard, Live Easy” — aligns with today’s


52 | SEPTEMBER 2021


widespread emphasis on achieving a better work-life balance in order to bolster mental and physical health. “We’re seeing it pay off,” Hull says. The


University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, a demographic research group, recently released population estimates showing upticks in most of the Roanoke area. “In talking to Realtors, I’m also hearing anecdotal stories about people who have chosen to make this their home,” he says.


Alexander Boone, a custom home builder and commercial developer in the Roanoke Valley, can attest to the area’s high level of activity lately. The Roanoke region has seen “really good, consistent growth, better than we’ve had in the past,” says Boone, who sits on Carilion Clinic’s board of directors and is president of ABoone Real Estate Inc.


‘Electric’ revitalization The collaboration between Virginia Tech and Carilion to establish the Virginia Tech Carilion Health Sciences and Technology Campus and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in downtown Roanoke has enhanced the area’s visibility greatly. Additionally, Carilion’s decision to renovate


more than 77,000 square feet in the former JCPenney store at Roanoke County’s Tanglewood Mall into Carilion Children’s Tanglewood Center has sparked new development interest there, too. “It has transformed the area,” Boone says, pointing to the restaurants going up in anticipation of increased traffic around Tanglewood. The Carilion center will house 14 pediatric specialties, the first of which is expected to open in mid-September. The repurposing of Tanglewood, which, like so many aging, traditional malls, had languished in recent years, is part of the county’s larger 419 Town Center plan to redevelop the mall and its surrounding area into a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly mixed-use district. Roanoke County secured mostly state and federal funds to initiate nearly $50 million in transportation improvements to draw mixed- use development to the area. A congested area of Route 419, or Electric Road, near Tanglewood Mall is getting additional lanes as well as bicycle and pedestrian paths to accommodate residents expected to move there in the years ahead.


Boone is building a 17,000-square- foot, two-story office building at nearby


Photo by Don Petersen


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