Strasburg downtown work moving forward

By Alex Bridges

Strasburg officials continue to look at ways to use grants to help redevelop the downtown area, including the old Brill building.

The Planning Commission met earlier this week to hear an update on these efforts. Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray also plans to give an update to Town Council at its work session on Monday, Murray said Friday.

Murray and other staff members continue to look for council’s guidance as a deadline nears to apply for a grant that keep the revitalization effort moving forward.

Town officials are using a Downtown Economic Revitalization Plan with a purpose of enhancing the business district in the area of King Street. The work also should position the town to apply for funds in the Community Development Block Grant program that Strasburg could use to pursue the goals of the revitalization plan and to construction or implement the priority projects identified in the planning process, according to Murray’s memorandum to Town Council.

Since officials began working with a consulting firm, the town has completed and released the results of a public survey that collected the community’s ideas and opinions. The survey also sought ideas on the possible uses of public space next to Town Hall and the former, adjacent Brill building. The consulting firm and town officials then held public forums to collect more ideas on the use of the space.

The Downtown Management Team met Oct. 3 and reviewed preliminary sketches for the development of the open space behind the Brill building and for the enhancement of the public parking lot and its connection to King Street. The team’s discussion centered around whether or not the town could incorporate the Brill building into both ideas, according to Murray.

The idea that the town may want to expand the use of the open space to include adjacent but privately owned land also has come up in talks at the development meetings.

“We’ve notified [owners] of what we’re up to but haven’t actually had a face-to-face conversation,” Murray said. “We’d like to do that and update them on some of their ideas.”

Murray states that staff members seek council’s input on the development ideas broached by the public about the use of open space adjacent to Town Hall and the buildings next to the open space. Murray asks in the memorandum if council would support moving forward with conceptual plans offered by a consultant on the redevelopment of the public space and the buildings; consider possible projects to endorse for the implementation grant; and if the town could acquire adjacent properties.

Ultimately, council members must hold a public hearing and endorse projects they want to move forward for the grant application, Murray states. The town must file the grant application by the end of February.

The town also is working to help revitalize the Strasburg Theatre on King Street through the use of a mixed use, mixed development grant. The town has been working with a local real estate firm that is trying to sell the property. This grant requires that the project include some residential element to the potential redevelopment. Murray said space in the theater could possibly be remodeled for use as apartments.

The consultants have been through the building and are assessing the condition of the theater — information Murray said will be important as town officials and council consider using the grant to redevelop or renovate the property.

“We’re going to be doing a tour [this month of] a few theaters in the region that have undergone a transformation, how’s it going, what did they do, what worked within that sort of thing just for additional information as we study the [Strasburg] theater and options for it,” Murray said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com