Route 36 redevelopment report

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A well traveled corridor in our area, could soon get a major makeover. A new report outlines a bold plan to overhaul a section of route 36 in Petersburg.

Route 36 is a major gateway from downtown Petersburg to Fort Lee and the National Battlefield. This newly released report lays out problems plaguing the corridor - it also offers long term and short term solutions.

Take a stroll on the Route 36 corridor and you'll see it's in need of a major facelift.

"It could be a beautiful area. It could be productive area with a little work to it," said Karen Laboo.

Karen Laboo owns a hair salon on Route 36. She's been here for 20 years and remembers what the corridor used to look like.

"They had a K-mart that was here. They had major chains of restaurants. They had the major car dealership. They even a bank in this area. All of that's gone," said Laboo.

A new Route 36 report outlines problems with the corridor - including vacant properties, unattractive retail space, and lack of landscaping.

"It's coming up with businesses to take a look at the properties to see what can be put in the existing buildings. The ones that are too old and rundown and antiquated, they need to be taken down and redeveloped," said Joe Battiston, Route 36 Task Force Chairman.

The report highlights the corridor as a potentially attractive place for stores, restaurants, hotels, even   multi-family residential units - specifically because of the corridor's proximity to Fort Lee.

Those affiliated with the study say attracting new business to the corridor starts with sprucing it up.

"We're hoping the city will implement some of the suggestions that are in the report. I believe strongly they will because we also had some input from the city which it's a partnership - this isn't a pie in the sky report," Battiston said.

Back at the salon Karen is hoping for an overhaul sooner than later.

"I've seen worse but I've seen better," said Laboo.

The report was prepared by Virginia Tech Urban Development Project Review Studio. We're told city leaders do have copies of the report and will decide later this year on whether to implement some of the ideas outlined in the study.

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