Neighbors voice concerns at meeting on Shenandoah Life property

Developer releases preliminary plans to build apartment complex

ROANOKE, Va. - Neighbors packed a public meeting Thursday night hosted by Carilion Clinic to discuss plans to sell part of the former Shenandoah Life property to a developer. 

Carilion Clinic purchased the former Shenandoah Life building on Brambleton Avenue Southwest in 2015. Carilion has said it will relocate sone nonclinical services to the building.

Carilion has also agreed to sell 17 acres of the property to Berkley Hall Companies, a developer of apartment communities.

According to Carilion officials, developer Berkley Hall approached Carilion a few months ago about purchasing part of the property, and the sale would cover the costs of renovations needed for the former Shenandoah Life building.

The news of a new apartment complex is not sitting well with some neighbors, who shared unhappy sentiment about the plans during the meeting.

"I think it's the wrong type of development for this property considering the neighborhood," said William Sweet, Roanoke resident. 

"It could bring the value of the properties down," said Jim George, who lives in the neighborhood.

Berkley Hall released preliminary drawings of the plans at the meeting, saying the complex would have 224 apartments.

Among neighbors' concerns - increased traffic, impact on trails and wildlife and issues with storm water and flooding.

"I love the fact that we had so many neighbors out here that were able to express their concerns, ask their questions," said Mike Dame, vice president of marketing and communications for Carilion Clinic.

Carilion Clinic has signed an intent to sell the 17-acre property to Berkley Hall, but the sale is not yet final, Dame said.

While Dame admitted it may have been a good idea to have this meeting earlier in the process, he said public feedback is still important going forward.

"We consider that feedback," Dame said. "I think it was really important for the developer to hear the feedback because all of this is going to have an impact I'm sure on how the next several months go."

"Development is not an easy process," said Mark Reynolds of Berkley Hall Companies. "Nobody likes [it] in their backyard, and I understand completely. But we want to do the best we can to work with the community."

Representatives from the city of Roanoke were in attendance to listen in on the meeting. 

Dame said Carilion will try to host another public meeting on the plans.


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