Regions Southern Virginia

Danville has big hopes for River District

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce

The City of Danville sees its River District Development Project as not only a way to revitalize its downtown and Tobacco Warehouse District but also to stimulate economic development.
The city is working with consultants from BBP LLC and Allison Platt & Associates on plans for the development. “Danville is an interesting and exciting town,” says Allison Platt. “It has so many historic resources.”

The plan recommends several public infrastructure improvements involving streets, sidewalks, trails, signage and streetlights. The city hopes to make landscaping improvements on key roads during the current fiscal year. Next year, it plans to demolish an abandoned downtown hotel to make way for a small park. Consultants are recommending the city invest $10 million in the project over a period of five to 10 years. “For Danville that is a pretty substantial investment,” says Danville City Manager Joe King.

The intersection that joins downtown’s Main Street and the Tobacco Warehouse District will be a “place where everything meets,” says Platt, who recommends the construction of a large fountain at that point. “That [intersection] has tremendous potential to become an icon for the town. It will become the connection between [all areas] in the River District.”

King wants to build on Danville’s connection with the Dan River. “We want to acknowledge the river’s beauty and draw people to it,” he says.

The Danville YMCA is building a new home on the north bank of the river.  The $14 million development calls for a network of pedestrian trails on both sides of the river that in addition to the bridge already in place will connect the south and north banks. “That will make it possible for people to walk from their place of business or new home to the YMCA,” King says.

The downtown area has the potential for millions of dollars of investment, according to King. “We have interest in two privately owned projects already,” he says, adding that these types of projects would boost city tax revenues.

The River District already includes the Crossing at the Dan area with a restored train station featuring Amtrak service, an outdoor amphitheater, the Pepsi Building and the Danville Science Center. Averett University also has acquired space in the River District in the former headquarters of tobacco leaf merchant Dimon Inc. “It will be moving some of its programs there,” King says.
Danville will hold a public meeting this month to announce the budget and the steps that will be taken immediately. “We want to have an informal partnership with all other stakeholders in the district,” King says. “We want to be in sync with owners and tenants of buildings. We want to stimulate more downtown living.” 

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