Developing downtown: As downtown Roanoke’s character has changed, its boundaries have expanded and its population has grown (Roanoke Business)

Nearly a decade after the beginning of a renovation renaissance in downtown Roanoke, the city core has reached a new tipping point. With nearly 2,000 downtown residents and a healthy stock of rehabilitated warehouse apartments, developers are now taking the next step and investing in new construction.

A South Carolina developer is building a Hampton Inn and Suites on top of a city parking garage at the corner of Market Street and Church Avenue. The $17 million, 127-room motel is scheduled to open in January, joining the historic Hotel Roanoke as an option for travelers to stay in downtown Roanoke. Meanwhile, Roanoke-based developer Lucas Thornton is investing $10 million into a new development. Located at a former surface parking lot at Williamson Road and Tazewell Avenue, the project includes 85 residential apartments and nearly 7,000 square feet of commercial space.

This investment in new construction marks a threshold moment in the modern history of downtown Roanoke. For the first time in decades, new buildings are rising up—and more may follow. The decision to build, says Thornton, comes because of steady stream of rehabilitation projects and their demonstration of an apparently insatiable demand for downtown living.

Read the rest of my story about downtown Roanoke in the December issue of Roanoke Business, online or in stands outside regional grocery stores.