December 30, 2014

Downtown Revitalization, Part 1: Roanoke

Named one of America’s Best Small Cities on the Rise by Smarter Travel in July 2014, Roanoke was known during colonial times as an important intersection of trails and roads in Southwest Virginia. Today, the City of Roanoke, situated at the southern end of the scenic Shenandoah Valley, has grown into a hub for commerce and business, with a population of just under 100,000 and a median area income of $62,900.

Over the past several years, VHDA has fostered relationships with local city leaders and developers to help revitalize the historic downtown district and provide a variety of urban housing options. Since 2010, VHDA has committed financing totaling over $83 million on 2,946 affordable multifamily units in the Roanoke and Lynchburg area. VHDA offers a range of rental loans that can be used to preserve existing housing stock or to build new quality affordable housing.

Developer Ed Walker used an $8.2 million VHDA permanent loan, as well as Historic Tax Credits, to preserve the former Virginia Mills Cotton Products plant in downtown Roanoke and transform it into a stylish 108-apartment development now known as Cotton Mill Lofts. VHDA’s REACH Virginia subsidy funds were blended with taxable bonds to provide a lower interest rate than the standard bond rate.

The apartments range in size from 450 square feet to more than 1,200 square feet. The unique mix of designer residences feature granite countertops, antique maple floors, heavy timber beams, energy-efficient windows, custom cabinets and stainless steel appliances. Most of the third-floor apartments have rooftop decks. There are also eight spaces designed to be “live/work units” which combine a workspace with living quarters to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners. These spaces also include an outside entrance.

We’re proud to partner with developers and local housing organizations to provide quality affordable housing for Virginia residents, as well as loans that help facilitate the vision and strategic plans of reemerging downtown markets across the Commonwealth.
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