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Locals discuss preserving history while encouraging growth in West End

West End
West End(WHSV)
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 5:35 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Staunton’s West End has been a popular topic of discussion for the city as they figure out how best to revitalize the area.

Like much of the area, West End is full of history, so while there is work to be done, stakeholders want to see the character of West End preserved.

“A lot of people think we need to scrape everything off and build a big box store - no! That’s probably the worst strategy we could have for that area,” said Frank Strassler, Executive Director of the Historic Staunton Foundation.

West End was once a vibrant part of the city but now is often overlooked. Its revitalization has been the focus of funding and meetings.

“It’s a prime neighborhood for good quality redevelopment,” said Strassler.

Studies from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Strong Towns say demolition should be a last resort, and redevelopment should be centered around what already exists.

“It’s more money, more tax money per acre, more profitable business for mom and pop stores, better scale for the neighborhood, better pedestrian access,” Strassler said.

Strassler said the area’s roads were built wide to allow traffic to flow without stopping, but they want people to stop.

“We want people to stop in the area to shop, to work, and to live,” he said.

He said the charm of West End isn’t dead. The structure of the area and the architecture of the buildings are huge attractions for many.

“The architectural characteristics that can be brought out in the neighborhood - everything from log construction to modern construction - can really lend to its character,” he said.

He wants to see the city support the history of the streets and support its growth.

“You get better bang for your buck by rehabbing those areas and making streets scaled appropriately for the area and to make sure your pedestrians have access to all those places,” he said.

The city hosted a re-engagement meeting Tuesday, May 24 at Gypsy Hill Park. If you’d like to learn more about Historic Staunton Foundation’s work, click here.

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