One of Blacksburg’s most endearing and unique features is its downtown. Often designated by the original 16 blocks that made up the town when it was founded in 1798, downtown is a place where students and locals interact.
It is also one of Blacksburg’s main commercial centers.
There are restaurants and coffee shops, as well as boutiques, art galleries and a hookah lounge. The many bars downtown also make it a very popular weekend destination for the over-21 crowd.
Another of downtown’s unique attractions is the Lyric Theatre, an single-screen movie theater located on College Avenue. By the readers of the Collegiate Times, it was voted the Best Cheap Date in Blacksburg in the CT’s annual Best of Blacksburg reader survey.
For $4 during the week and $5 on the weekend, the Lyric shows movies that have been released already in larger theaters and movies that are not as widely released.
During the warmer months, the farmers market operates downtown on Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Market Square Park — its newly renovated location on the corner of Roanoke Street and Draper Avenue — had its grand reopening in mid-April.
The farmers market is a great place to buy local produce at a fair price just steps off campus.
Many downtown businesses are members of a group called the Downtown Blacksburg, Inc., an organization that supports economic development downtown.
The Blacksburg Town Council and other town planners have supported a policy of “smart growth” for downtown, which would concentrate development near the center of a town to avoid sprawl.
It has also made an effort to keep “big-box stores,” such as Wal-Mart, out of Blacksburg to encourage local small businesses.
Beginning this summer, the Main Street improvement project will make some major changes for the look of downtown.
Construction will affect the stretch of North Main Street from College Avenue to Kabrich Street. It will reduce the road from two lanes in both directions to one lane in both directions, widen and brick the sidewalks and place shade trees and decorative lighting that will match the rest of downtown. The intersection of Main Street and Prices Fork Road will also be replaced with a
The project is set to be completed by the spring 2012.
Future plans for downtown also include Virginia Tech’s Center for the Arts, which will be located between the Alumni Mall and Shultz Dining Center. It is also scheduled for completion in 2012.
Though the Center for the Arts will be designed and built through Tech, the town and the university have collaborated on both projects in an effort to promote Blacksburg as a notable arts destination in southwest Virginia.