The Town of Strasburg is located in the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, at the intersection of I-81 and I-66. Its downtown includes a unique combination of buildings from the early 1900’s, 1800’s, and even a few remaining log cabins from the Colonial period. While the town is in a prime crossroads location and has a historical flare, the Town’s downtown was suffering from blighted conditions and a declining retail base.
We were contracted to research and compile an Economic Restructuring Plan and to compile and submit an application for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for downtown revitalization. The Town was awarded $700,000 in CDBG funds in 2016, and we provided project management assistance to the Town during the implementation of the project.
Twenty building facades were targeted for grant-funded façade improvements, which led to significant private investment in the area. One of those investments became the Box Office Brewery, which resides in a transformed downtown theater. Additionally, three buildings in danger of collapse were totally reconstructed.
With the improvements, Strasburg’s downtown began to thrive. Utilizing both Town and CDBG funds, two buildings were removed to make room for the construction of a year-round market pavilion, a town green, a performance pavilion, and a creek-side trail connecting the public space to nearby parking. With these improvements in place, the Town was able to revive the energy of their town.
We conducted field surveys of each of the neighborhoods to assess housing conditions and infrastructure deficiencies. We also analyzed local demographic and real estate data. Along with that, we conducted interviews with local builders, developers and real estate agents because we needed to understand the nuances of the local market, which simple data couldn’t reveal to us.
A neighborhood study, funded under a 2008 CDBG Planning Grant, assisted the Town in identifying specific community development and housing needs in the neighborhood. The proposed improvement plan focused on the rehabilitation of houses in conjunction with water and street improvements.