Page 39 - Salem Magazine Spring 2016
P. 39

Like any downtown, people will always say they want more parking. “What about more parking?”
One of our most common questions was about the amount of parking in Downtown Salem. It might surprise you to learn that there are 2,019 parking spaces in downtown, and that only about 50% of the parking downtown is actually used at any given time. That’s not to say that there aren’t areas that are busier than that, but the takeaway is that there is an adequate amount of parking downtown for our current needs, even on the day of Roanoke College graduation. The issue is directing people to it, and making it available in a more efficient manner. In the near future we’ll be adding directional signs to Main Street to point shoppers to longer term parking than what’s available on the street. We’ll also be working with some of our downtown partners, such as Roanoke College, Roanoke County and the many churches downtown to make some of their parking available to the public when they aren’t using it. The city is looking at changing hours of the on-street parking. We will also work towards adding new parking in the medium term.
These are excellent, common sense driven approaches that I’m sure the businesses have appreciated.
The business response has been extremely positive. If anything, people are wanting us to move faster. One of our main reasons for doing the Downtown Plan was to benefit the businesses that call Downtown Salem home. Remember all those surveys we talked about? Maybe you got one with your utility bill? All that data was put together and will be provided to the businesses through their stakeholder group. For example, we learned that one of the main things people are looking for downtown is live entertainment. Respondents cited that as one of the main reasons they don’t shop or dine in Downtown Salem. That’s a business opportunity for a smart entrepreneur. So we take something we learned from the process and hand that knowledge over to the business community and let them do what they do best. Maybe a restaurant picks that up and runs with it, much like the recent addition at Macado’s. Another thing we heard was the people wanted a co-op type, local foods store, and O’Brien Meats has really latched onto that.
The changes they have made to their business, inside and out are very noticeable, what are some other changes citizens will begin noticing from the city side of things?
In the coming year you will see plenty of things happen, but there will also be a ton of work going on behind the scenes. Perhaps the most visible will be new products from businesses and expansion of dining areas along with the directional parking signs. We also plan to add signs for Downtown Salem to the interstate, create special parking for tourists and we will host new special events downtown such as the Salem Half Marathon. Also our first permits will be issued for outdoor dining on the sidewalks, along with work to facades in downtown through an incentive grant. Both of these will be very noticeable.
If I’m just hearing about all of this and would like to learn more or participate, how can I get involved?
The best way to keep abreast of the work on Downtown Salem is at our website You can view the adopted plan there and we post new information at that location. If you’re a business owner, we’d love to talk with you about the plan and what we’ve learned. If you’re a shopper, come out and see some of the new offerings downtown – And shop local!
Salem’s Planning & Development and Zoning Departments met with citizens over the winter to discuss ideas for the upcoming downtown plan.
Our Community
    Sidewalks in downtown Salem will get an overhaul including brick pavers and restaurants will be able to begin offering outdoor dining.
 Macado’s recently completed a covered outdoor renovation including ceiling fans, new tables, flat screen televisions and a fireplace lounge area. | SPRING 2016

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