Downtown Strategy

Blacksburg, Virginia

In 2017, Blacksburg, which is home to Virginia Tech University, was at a crossroads, with very real tension between student housing development and efforts to preserve community character leading to a stalemate in Downtown that was prohibiting positive growth.

Our Approach

Development Strategies led four public meetings, as well as regular meetings with Town Council and a steering committee to provide education, receive feedback, and seek points of alignment. Emphasis was placed on growth and preservation, the need for density, and the potential unintended consequences of sprawl if traffic and the lack of affordability are not addressed.

The plan identified seven strategies, including the creation of downtown districts, each with its own character, market opportunities, and set of community objectives they could support. Further refinement of these strategies led to the development of physical alternatives at key catalyst sites. Lastly, an implementation plan was put forth that centered on seven critical issues, including development, affordable housing, public space, non-motorized transportation, economic growth, and distinctiveness.

Following the conclusion of the planning process, Development Strategies has continued to work with the Town, advising on developer criteria, developer selection, deal structuring, and development and design standards.

In addition, the Town is moving forward with selective, strategic zoning overlays within the downtown to bring it in line with the Downtown Strategy.