The Key to Safe Streets: Five Cities Humanizing Street Design
Case Studies 

Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

*Nominee 

Historic Roanoke City Market

Roanoke

Virginia

USA

Contributed by 
Bryce Johnson
Project for Public Spaces
 on 
May 11, 2018
May 14, 2018

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

For over a century, the Historic Roanoke City Market has served as a lively urban space for the community of the Roanoke Valley. The space dates back to 1882 as the oldest farmers’ market in the state of Virginia, and sits within the city’s downtown historic district. Since that time, Historic Roanoke City Market’s cultural significance has expanded to include the Science Museum of Western Virginia, the Roanoke Pinball Museum, the Taubman Museum of Art, Mill Mountain Theatre, The Harrison Museum of African American Culture, and Kids Square. Additionally, the district serves as the focal point of numerous community events such as Dickens of a Christmas, City Market Saturdays, Sidewalk Sales, Movies in the Market, Rooftop Riot, and the local Sierra Club’s monthly Climate Change Watch. In between events, the Historic Roanoke City Market remains alive by providing access to a variety of businesses. Pedestrian activity has grown in response to recent redevelopment projects such as the privately funded $27 million renovation of the Center in the Square building, $7.9 million renovation of the City Market Building, and infill development along Market St. Additionally, the space has become less car-centric due to the transformation of the Market Square parking lot into open space, and façade improvements associated with the relocation of a parking garage entrance from Market St. to Campbell Ave. These recent changes reinforce the Historic Roanoke City Market as a true community space which is accessible and usable by all members of the region.

In addition to  being in the urban core of Roanoke, encompassing four walkable downtown city blocks, the Historic Roanoke City Market is also an essential component of the greater natural environment of the Roanoke Valley. The space connects to the regional greenway system which is frequently quoted as an asset during the city’s community outreach, and provides access to the natural environment for both recreational and commuting purposes. This access to nature is supplemented by street trees, three public plazas, and Elmwood Park which borders the area to the south. Additionally, the space provides access to the local food system through a local grocery co-op and the year-round, daily farmers’ market. The community further supports maintaining a healthy relationship with nature by ensuring the space is kept clean and attractive, such as reflected in the beautification grants and other cleaning efforts by Downtown Roanoke Inc. and its partners. As a result, the Historic Roanoke City Market reflects the surrounding natural mountain environment loved by the Roanoke Valley community.

The Historic Roanoke City Market further reflects its surroundings by serving as the regional hub for the Roanoke Valley. Events held within the space attract visitors from across the metropolitan region. These visitors continue to frequent the space throughout the year due to the ample presence of retail, restaurant, and park spaces which help define the Historic Roanoke City Market as a regional destination. As a result, the space is recognized for its economic potential, as further reflected in the presence of nearby offices and other businesses which help maintain a continued lively presence. Economic development is further aided with assistance from Downtown Roanoke Inc., which facilitates continued use and appreciation of the Historic Roanoke City Market as part of the downtown area. These efforts appear to have been successful in attracting life to the area, as demonstrated by CityLab’s report that the downtown population has increased from 50 residents in 2000 to about 1,800 residents in 2017. The Historic Roanoke City Market additionally benefits the local economy by attracting visitors from the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, which is immediately accessible to the north via a pedestrian bridge over rail tracks. Thus, the Historic Roanoke City Market works in tandem with its surrounding uses to attract visitors and new residents into downtown Roanoke to enjoy the region’s favorite pedestrian environment.

The Historic Roanoke City Market primarily succeeds as a public space because it provides an equitable and accessible pedestrian destination for the Roanoke Valley. Market St serves as the core of the public space by spanning four short blocks with access to multiple bus and trolley stops, the new regional bike share program, and the nearby Greyhound Bus and Amtrak stations each a block away. According to neo-traditional development patterns, the street’s endpoints lead to t-intersections defined by the City Market Building and Elmwood Park as downtown anchor destinations. Once in the space, pedestrians are kept safe through ample lighting, crosswalks, and street calming techniques, such as narrow streets and metered street-side parking. For all of these reasons, Historic Roanoke City Market area continues to serve as a lively space contributing to the environmental and economic health of the region by providing a true pedestrian destination for the Roanoke valley.

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Historic Roanoke City Market
Historic Roanoke City Market
Historic Roanoke City Market
Historic Roanoke City Market
Historic Roanoke City Market
Historic Roanoke City Market
Historic Roanoke City Market
Historic Roanoke City Market

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

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