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Jun 05

Recap of Oak Grove Design Open Houses

Posted on June 5, 2018 at 4:31 PM by Bailey Howard-DuBois

Meeting
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“Reimagine Oak Grove” wrapped up its spring meetings with two design open houses in May, involving nearly 70 attendees. Participants gave feedback on potential plans for the next 20 years, including possibilities for redevelopment, improved public spaces and multi-modal transportation.

Participants used green and red dots to show preferred and not preferred types of improvements in these broad categories. This exercise will help Roanoke County and the City of Roanoke identify design recommendations and priorities for the area. If you missed the meeting, the exercise is now available to take online! The full results will be available in July.

Survey
Design survey results for commercial/residential development from May 24, 2018

Of the commercial redevelopment options, participants liked modern one-floor shopping centers and mixed use town centers, but did not want new “big box” anchor stores. Of the low-density housing options, standalone patio homes were strongly preferred, with some interest in multi-floor duplexes or connected patio homes. Many participants showed some interest in multi-family apartment buildings with fewer floors, although the style and number of buildings made a great difference. 

At the March meetings, participants had identified a large variety of desired development types, as well as where they would like to see new development or redevelopment take place. Staff displayed these results on a map. The desired uses included sit-down and fast casual restaurants; coffee shops; bars; specialty grocery stores; a lifestyle/Town Center; a variety of retail stores; entertainment venues; outdoor public spaces; a youth center; and many more uses.

Survey
Design survey results for placemaking elements, outdoor recreation spaces and landscaping/streetscaping from May 24, 2018

Participants also voted on green space and aesthetic features. The most popular options were public art sculptures and pedestrian-oriented signage, outdoor seating at restaurants and a variety of landscaping improvements. For outdoor recreation spaces, participants most liked the natural water / play park option for the Oak Grove Center area.

Survey
Design survey results for transportation improvements from May 24, 2018

Nearly all of the pedestrian options received high marks, particularly paved greenways, natural surface hiking trails and sidewalks in both public spaces and neighborhoods. The preferred bike options took bikes off the street, and more participants liked facilities that separated bikes and pedestrians, too. Finally, participants liked the option of a community trolley to provide transit options, as well as expanded RADAR & CORTRAN service. A map showing most of the Roanoke Valley asked participants where they would want to walk or bike to from the study area. A second map of the greater region asked participants where they would like to take the bus from the study area. Attendees could also comment on a map of all transportation issues and needs in the study area based on the March meetings’ public feedback, survey results and stakeholder interviews.

If you would like to comment on the maps and vote on these options, please take our online survey! Open until June 30.

Staff engaged Roanoke County area schools in the study’s initial planning stages to encourage greater participation by the community’s youth and young leaders. Two teachers from Hidden Valley High School attended the meeting and presented students’ preliminary concepts for a renovation of Oak Grove Park and the County’s adjacent 6-acre parcel.

Survey Results


The Oak Grove Center survey was open from February 1 through April 7 and received 595 responses. Many respondents indicated that they like the location and appreciate its scenic views, but wanted more restaurant options and places to hang out. There was a strong desire for aesthetic improvements and pedestrian access to connect the study area to the surrounding neighborhoods. While many agreed that the “location is very good,” a lot of comments similarly stated that the area “desperately needs pedestrian access and improved accessibility for cars and pedestrians to businesses and neighborhoods. [There is] too much pavement. It is not a ‘place’; the area is just several shopping centers along a large highway…It can be more.”

Survey
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Another theme from all of the community input so far was the need for better entertainment options for families and youth, including park improvements. One respondent suggested they “would like to see Oak Grove Park updated and better connected to the school.” Another pointed out that “It is a great place to raise families, but, in order to keep young adults in this part of the Roanoke Valley, I would like to see more entertainment and retail options, as well as easy access to recreation areas.”

While some respondents were concerned about big changes in the area, particularly with the potential for traffic congestion brought on by more shopping or multi-family housing, others called for a balanced approach: “I'd be happy with either townhomes/duplexes or additional retail/restaurant, if it's planned in a thoughtful ‘town center’ kind of layout that integrates housing.”

Roanoke County will draft the Oak Grove Center Plan over the summer and will bring it back to the public for a plan reveal meeting in the fall.

See the full results of the meeting exercises and stay in touch by signing up for the Oak Grove Center email list at www.roanokecountyva.gov/OakGrove.