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Rockledge Inn

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Is the rebuilding of Rockledge Inn becoming a reality? I heard this weekend that some developers have stepped up and they even have a group signed on to do a restaurant. Anyone else hearing this?

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I tend to agree. I'm a bit skeptical because this seems to be a really emotional issue for those who oppose it and they will fight it to the end. Also, don't all the Fishburns have to be on board and haven't some of them publicly voiced opposition? I think it would be cool. Great views for visitors, just not too sure it can overcome the naysayers. Time will tell.

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I agree, I'm very skeptical on this one as well, but I spoke to someone yesterday that says a restauranteer has also signed on to do a restaurant on top of Mill Mountain. This person wouldn't know anything about Rockledge, but would know about this person's restaurant business. Unless there was some huge misunderstanding in their conversation, I can't imagine a restaurant going anywhere up there unless someone was moving forward with plans for Rockledge.

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One factor to think about is that the Fishburn heirs were against the proposal presented by Valley Forward. They didn't necessarily say they would oppose a smaller scale project. The city went ahead with an RFP for a hotel/restaurant despite the opposition from the heirs and it is still posted on the city's website. Perhaps this source connected with the restaurant has taken part in submitting a proposal to the city for review. If it is less objectionable to the opposition, it could become a reality.

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The rebuilding of Rockledge should become a reality! I can't understand the opposition to "development" on Mill Hill. Mill Mountain is already developed!! There is a fledgling zoo, a neon star,

public park, lots of hikers all over the place plus housing all around the mountain. HOW can anyone say no development should take place there? Its already there. Please Fishburn family change your

outdated 1900 era thinking and help Roanoke move forward!!

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I'm a 34 year old professional who grew up in the Roanoke area and now live someplace else. So, I'm basically part of the "target audience" for this proposal. I have to admit feeling quite underwhelmed, at the least, when a group whose goal is to attract young professionals to Roanoke put this idea forward as its centerpiece proposal. I'm not opposed to development on Mill Mountain. If private investors want to put up their money and rebuild the Rockledge Inn, then great for them and I wish them the best. Roanoke should not stand in their way. However, the city of Roanoke should not spend any taxpayer money on this. Why should this business be favored over private businessman who have opened establishments such as Corned Beef & Company, Metro!, 202 Market, etc?

At a deeper level, especially with the opening of the Art Museum, Roanoke has gone far enough down the Richard Florida "cool" road for the time being. How much public money, whether local or not, has been spent on the Art Museum, Ukrops, the Link Museum, the Jefferson Center, the Dumas Center, the Roanoke Civic Center, etc? You can't put the cart before the horse. If more jobs are available, then more young professionals will move to/not leave Roanoke and they in turn will provide the support these amenities need to prosper. It's time for Roanoke to get back to the basics. Forget about the Inn and the Amphitheatre (especially since one is being built at SML) unless they can be funded privately.

Roanoke needs to do what it can to support the new school superintendent Bishop because, frankly, if she fails to significantly improve the current problems then the city is in big trouble. Population loss will accelerate. Roanoke needs to get rid of the incredibly incompetent police chief Gaskins. Hire someone from a city which has reduced crime, such as New York City or Richmond, and who knows what works. Young professionals want to be safe and they want good schools for their kids or, at least, good schools so their homes will appreciate in value.

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I'm a 34 year old professional who grew up in the Roanoke area and now live someplace else. So, I'm basically part of the "target audience" for this proposal. I have to admit feeling quite underwhelmed, at the least, when a group whose goal is to attract young professionals to Roanoke put this idea forward as its centerpiece proposal. I'm not opposed to development on Mill Mountain. If private investors want to put up their money and rebuild the Rockledge Inn, then great for them and I wish them the best. Roanoke should not stand in their way. However, the city of Roanoke should not spend any taxpayer money on this. Why should this business be favored over private businessman who have opened establishments such as Corned Beef & Company, Metro!, 202 Market, etc?

At a deeper level, especially with the opening of the Art Museum, Roanoke has gone far enough down the Richard Florida "cool" road for the time being. How much public money, whether local or not, has been spent on the Art Museum, Ukrops, the Link Museum, the Jefferson Center, the Dumas Center, the Roanoke Civic Center, etc? You can't put the cart before the horse. If more jobs are available, then more young professionals will move to/not leave Roanoke and they in turn will provide the support these amenities need to prosper. It's time for Roanoke to get back to the basics. Forget about the Inn and the Amphitheatre (especially since one is being built at SML) unless they can be funded privately.

Roanoke needs to do what it can to support the new school superintendent Bishop because, frankly, if she fails to significantly improve the current problems then the city is in big trouble. Population loss will accelerate. Roanoke needs to get rid of the incredibly incompetent police chief Gaskins. Hire someone from a city which has reduced crime, such as New York City or Richmond, and who knows what works. Young professionals want to be safe and they want good schools for their kids or, at least, good schools so their homes will appreciate in value.

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I don't disagree that improving schools and lowering crime will help Roanoke. But I'm not sure that these factors are hurting the city to attract young people. Richmond city schools are in worse shape than Roanokes, and crime is far higher in Richmond. Even with the much celebrated, drastically lower murder rate this year, Richmond has over 3 times as many murders per capita. The worst parts of Roanoke have about the same violent crime rate as the poorer areas of Richmond's fan district, an area teeming with young professionals.

Good jobs are certainly a bigger factor, but amenities are equally important in attracting young workers, and better cultural amenities should help attract more economic activity to the area. If Roanoke can succeed at maintaining a fantastically low cost of living, while cool nightspots, greenways, brew-pubs (see my next post) and other amenities increase in number, there will be an influx of new blood into the city.

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I agree with the fact that adding ammenities helps. It's really all the city has the power to do besides offer incentives to business development which council has seemed willing to do. I think the greenway is an example of an investment of public funds that is very wise and helps promote quality of life for the citizen's of Roanoke young and old.

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Valley Forward will hold a press conference tomorrow to unveil their new proposal for a facility on Mill Mtn. The new proposal does not include an inn, but still has an upscale restaurant, and some sort of snack shop. Also nixed from the plan is the parking garage.

A quality parking solution would be pea gravel. It looks classy (much better than an asphalt parking lot) and eliminates impervious surface runoff.

full story

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Valley Forward will hold a press conference tomorrow to unveil their new proposal for a facility on Mill Mtn. The new proposal does not include an inn, but still has an upscale restaurant, and some sort of snack shop. Also nixed from the plan is the parking garage.

A quality parking solution would be pea gravel. It looks classy (much better than an asphalt parking lot) and eliminates impervious surface runoff.

full story

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Valley Forward unveiled its proposal today, which is different from its initial proposal in that it doesn't include the inn, instead just two restaurants and a community room. I think if done correctly, it will do fantastic. Steve Parry knows how to run a restaurant, so with him on board this project is off on the right foot. If you haven't been to Bookbinders in Richmond, Downtown Grille in Charlottesville or his newest restaurant, Shoemakers in Lynchburg, you should check them out.

This will be a great spot for wedding receptions, I think.

RT story: http://www.roanoke.com/news/breaking/wb/141702

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Valley Forward says they have come to an agreement with the Fishburn heirs on this proposal. If that is the case, this plan has a much better chance of coming to fruition. It addresses almost any environmental concerns that could be raised, including the pervious parking that I proposed/predicted. The rendering is very impressive, done by a true artist. I really hope this succeeds. I know Betty Field will oppose it. But hopefully a majority of the Mill Mountain Advisory committee and city council will support the project. This could be another Hotel Roanoke style development that the whole valley could become involved in. Here's hoping. :alc:

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I studied the map of the proposal from the Roanoke.com site and compared it to the aerial photo of mill mtn on the online GIS of Roanokeva.gov. It appears that between 15 and 20 trees would have to be cut down. About 10 are in the proposed footprint or very close and the rest are downhill from the site and would probably be removed to obtain a proper view. I agree with the comments from Lugar and Fralin that this would not disrupt the treeline at the summit. These trees are not quite at the crest of the mountain. The parking areas would require little if any clearing of trees. It is a shame that any trees would have to come down, but its pretty insignificant. Plus new trees could be planted in areas that are currently bare. I think the clearing of trees will be the biggest point of contention, we'll see how it plays out.

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I studied the map of the proposal from the Roanoke.com site and compared it to the aerial photo of mill mtn on the online GIS of Roanokeva.gov. It appears that between 15 and 20 trees would have to be cut down. About 10 are in the proposed footprint or very close and the rest are downhill from the site and would probably be removed to obtain a proper view. I agree with the comments from Lugar and Fralin that this would not disrupt the treeline at the summit. These trees are not quite at the crest of the mountain. The parking areas would require little if any clearing of trees. It is a shame that any trees would have to come down, but its pretty insignificant. Plus new trees could be planted in areas that are currently bare. I think the clearing of trees will be the biggest point of contention, we'll see how it plays out.

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McLaw, what is the altitude of Mill Mountain? And secondly, are there other mountain peaks nearby that overlook the city of Roanoke?

I only know of two Old Original Bookbinder restaurants outside of Philadelphia, and they are both in Richmond -- the flagship operation downtown in Tobacco Row, and another smaller version near Chesterfield Town Center. The downtown store is really first-class. On a scale of 1 to 10, easily an eight.

I like the rendering of the Mill Mountain development which appears to blend into the surroundings. Pity there are so many restrictions.

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Valley Forward has started an online petition in support of the new Mill Mountain facility. It only takes a few seconds.

Click this link : Valleyforward.net

I don't know if this will make a huge difference. But it can't hurt if a large number sign the petition.

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I think Dan Radmacher really nails it in his latest op-ed: http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/radmacher/wb/146036.

I apologize for being a little intemperate in my earlier post, but this proposal rankles me. Radmacher is correct that this proposal certainly isn't make or break in turning Roanoke into an attractive community for young professionals. Even if no public funds are used, I'm not too fond of the idea and definitely do not think the Fishburns should be pressured into allowing it. I think the focus of entertainment options should be downtown to help sustain a critical mass of establishments. I'm disappointed that a potentially useful organization such as Valley Forward would place so much capital in a project where the level of opposition could easily have been forseen and in one so tangential to the organization's stated goals. I'm afraid Valley Forward will be forever tainted in the eyes of many. This whole proposal plays into the huge gap between the "elites" and white collar workers and the blue collar/working class which feels it has no voice in how the valley is run. (Obviously, this feeling is hardly limited to Roanoke but I think it's especially large here.) This gap, I believe, is one that has to be narrowed for the region to have a fighting chance to attain a higher level of growth than in recent decades. Perhaps Valley Forward should have focused first on a way to serve the community, particularly the blue collar class. The high school drop out rates in the region (and, frankly, poor educations received by many who graduate), particularly in Roanoke city, are caused by young persons sensing no future especially those who do not desire a full college education and a subsequent white collar type career. At the same time, the region has difficulty attracting and maintaining the type of high tech, high skilled manufacturing jobs which, despite all the talk of manufacturing jobs going extinct, are being created in large numbers by the economy. My suggestion for Valley Forward would have been to develop mentoring, tutoring, and other programs with a goal of fostering a regional workforce which would match these young persons currently dropping out with employers wanting skilled workers.

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A restaurant on top of a mountain will not make any young people want to live here.

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Radmacher is correct that this proposal certainly isn't make or break in turning Roanoke into an attractive community for young professionals.

Even if no public funds are used, I'm not too fond of the idea and definitely do not think the Fishburns should be pressured into allowing it.

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mclawsdrive,

I hear alot of what you're saying. However, this proposal was definitely the wrong proposal at the wrong time. Rightly or wrongly, many blue collar Roanokers feel things like the demolition of Victory Stadium and the construction of the Art Museum (and, to a lesser degree, other cultural projects) have been shoved down their throats. The Rockledge Inn proposal comes across as another effort by a narrow, elite group to foist their vision on the unwashed masses. These blue collar types hate that their children have to move away if they go to college or face limited prospects around Roanoke if they do not. They feel, again whether rightly or wrongly, that the elites don't care since they can make a few calls to get jobs for their children. I believe the folks behind Valley Forward and related efforts, such as those by Stuart Mease, are concerned about the valley's future. However, this "us versus them" dynamic in the valley needs to be addressed.

There has just been a string of so many projects that have, at least in part, been billed as a "big thing" to help turn Roanoke around. There's been Center in the Square, Valley View Mall, Explore Park, the Dominion Tower, the Hotel Roanoke reopening, the Jefferson Center, the Art Museum, the Rockledge Inn, etc. I'm not saying that these projects have not been worthy on their own merits, but they've generally been oversold. There needs to be more appreciation that it's more likely to be an accumulation of "little things" that will lead to a turnaround. Valley Forward, and similar groups, need to show that they understand that.

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mclawsdrive,

I hear alot of what you're saying. However, this proposal was definitely the wrong proposal at the wrong time. Rightly or wrongly, many blue collar Roanokers feel things like the demolition of Victory Stadium and the construction of the Art Museum (and, to a lesser degree, other cultural projects) have been shoved down their throats. The Rockledge Inn proposal comes across as another effort by a narrow, elite group to foist their vision on the unwashed masses. These blue collar types hate that their children have to move away if they go to college or face limited prospects around Roanoke if they do not. They feel, again whether rightly or wrongly, that the elites don't care since they can make a few calls to get jobs for their children. I believe the folks behind Valley Forward and related efforts, such as those by Stuart Mease, are concerned about the valley's future. However, this "us versus them" dynamic in the valley needs to be addressed.

There has just been a string of so many projects that have, at least in part, been billed as a "big thing" to help turn Roanoke around. There's been Center in the Square, Valley View Mall, Explore Park, the Dominion Tower, the Hotel Roanoke reopening, the Jefferson Center, the Art Museum, the Rockledge Inn, etc. I'm not saying that these projects have not been worthy on their own merits, but they've generally been oversold. There needs to be more appreciation that it's more likely to be an accumulation of "little things" that will lead to a turnaround. Valley Forward, and similar groups, need to show that they understand that.

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There's also going to have to be some sort of action by City Council to make it happen. Currently, eating and drinking establishments are prohibited in the ROS zoning district.

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