Construction has begun for an apartment complex along Patrick Henry Drive after an extensive battle between Shenandoah neighborhood residents and Green Valley Builders, a local Blacksburg construction company responsible for the development.
“We’re full blown under construction,” said Justin Boyle, Green Valley Builders’ chief financial officer. “Everything is going really well.”
Since the proposal of this project in 2018, Shenandoah neighborhood residents, who live in the area where the buildings are being constructed, have been fighting against the development of this housing.
Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith described the rezoning process, commenting that the request of Green Valley Builders to change the usage of this land was approved in 2018. Blacksburg Town Council granted the rezoning of the land outside of the Shenandoah neighborhood to be used for apartment homes.
“Green Valley Builders was rezoning the area for bigger housing,” Hager-Smith said, reflecting on the meeting in February 2019 in which the town council made a decision about whether or not the rezoning approval should be renewed.
At the town council meeting Feb. 12, 2019, 26 Blacksburg citizens provided their opinions on the possible rezoning. Eighteen were against the passing of the ordinance and eight were supportive of it, with the majority of the citizens being residents of the Shenandoah neighborhood.
At the conclusion of public comments, Hager-Smith said, “When I first came to town here in 1982, I lived in the Shenandoah Townhouses, and your houses weren’t there. I felt sad when they were built. I remember it being an empty field.”
Additionally, Hager-Smith urged the citizens of the town to understand this pivotal moment in Blacksburg history, noting the expected growth of Virginia Tech in the upcoming years and commenting, “I believe this is an opportunity to demonstrate our professed values and to help prevent sprawl.”
After calling the role, the rezoning was passed with four town council members in support and three against.
Eight months later, relations between the residents of that area and the builders have improved significantly according to Green Valley Builders.
“We’re working together, and everything has been good,” Boyle said, noting how they have been working on an adjustment point to the trail located behind the prospective building. “We’re expected to open in August 2020.”
However, John McQuail, head of the Homeowner’s Association for the Shenandoah neighborhood, describes how many of the residents are unhappy about the decision, and that the majority of them lost hope in the battle against it.
“I listed my house for sale the day after their decision,” McQuail said, discussing his disappointment in the approval of the construction of these apartments. “In order for me to sell my house I had to reduce the price by $50,000. Several other neighbors had the same disappointing selling experience.”
“It was a baffling decision on the part of four of the town council members,” McQuail said. “I didn’t feel that I could continue to live in Blacksburg when the town council is more interested in fueling the runaway growth of Virginia Tech versus preserving the quality of life of its citizens.”