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Monday, September 9, 2013
Q: I’m curious about the construction site at the end of Airport Road at the intersection with Peters Creek. They are putting in storm drains and I’d like to know what they are planning there.
Betty Cromer, Roanoke
A: Betty, you are not the only person who has asked this question. I generally try to avoid queries that ask about particular construction sites or power lines or road work. While they are very interesting if they are happening in your back yard, they are of limited interest to most readers. But because this particular project is in a heavily traveled area and seems to be taking a long time to complete, I’ll make an exception.
I pulled over and checked the building permit at the site, which led me to an excavating contractor named Patrick Blevins. He then put me on to Robert Fralin, president of Integrated Real Estate Corp., a property development company that builds and manages housing developments, apartment complexes and commercial property.
Fralin says that his company bought a farm once owned by the Jones family, but before they can build on it they first need to prepare the site by laying drainpipe and leveling it for construction.
What you are seeing right now is the result of several months of hauling in fill dirt, some of which came from the building of the Roanoke greenway system. The big machines you see are mostly just moving and packing dirt at this point, and actual construction is expected to begin in January.
When it is finished there will be 108 multi-family upscale apartments, according to Fralin, and three commercial “pad” sites along Peters Creek. The developer isn’t sure what kind of companies might opt to build on the pads, but mentioned that the three 1-acre tracts might hold anything from a boutique Holiday Inn Express to a retailer or restaurant.
I was just thinking the other day that what this valley needs are some more commercial pad sites. We could really use some frozen yogurt shops or tobacco stores or mobile phone retailers, don’t you think?
But seriously, while the project may bring to mind the old Joanie Mitchell song about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot, it’s also a reminder that in our hilly valley it’s hard to find a piece of land that can be easily developed without first moving a lot of dirt.
Our topography adds to the cost and complexity of any large construction project.
This can lead to longer building times than developers in my flat home state of Indiana might face. There we used to joke that Burger Kings went up so fast it seemed as though the builders backed up a truck in the middle of the night and blew them up like the moonwalk inflatables you see at church picnics.
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A recent column on the dearth of stinkbugs brought this response from Constance Wright of The Professor’s Garden, who sells local produce along with her husband, David, at the Grandin Village Community Market and other places.
She wrote, “We have lost the war! Today there are thousands, if not millions, of adult brown marmorated stink bugs swarming in our part of the County and destroying our crops. Your readers should be seeing them on and in their homes any day now.”
She also sent along some frightening photos of these creepy little suckers all over her corn crop, and I’ll post a link to them on the blog.
If you’ve been wondering about something, call “What’s on Your Mind?” at 777-6476 or send an email to email@example.com. Don’t forget to provide your full name, its proper spelling and your hometown.
Look for Tom Landon’s column on Mondays. Visit the blog at blogs.roanoke.com/whatsonyourmind.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us