BLACKSBURG, VA. (WDBJ) – Companies along Prices Fork Road want to remind you that they are still open. This comes after a multi-million dollar Virginia Tech Foundation project took over the entire parking lot in front of them.
Hard to see when you pull down the prices on Fork Rd, but behind the construction the shops are still fully functional. The Next Door Bake Shop on 460 Turner Street is one of them, and has been open for more than a decade.
“It’s been tough and I’m a little nervous, I’m not going to lie, but we’re trying our best here,” said the social media manager and co-owner of Aivey Street.
Street and her sister Pie Charoensombutamorin have done their best to keep the store going since the pandemic started last year.
“We never actually closed, not even because of COVID,” said Charoensombutamorin. “In the first few months we just took part. Everything that we have served in a cup or a plate has now been turned into disposable items. “
They said COVID cut the business in half, and now that you can’t drive straight to the front door, they fear they will miss out on more customers.
“As a business owner in this small town, I need all the help I can get,” said Street. “We tried to work really hard in every way we could and every step we take to survive during COVID-19. When the foundation closed the parking lot, that’s on top. “
The sisters agreed that they were on board the Virginia Tech Foundation project.
“I told Pie it was probably the best that could happen because it’s bigger than the Gilbert Street project,” said Street. “It would probably bring in more people and be good for the bakery since we’ve been there for over a decade.”
Neither of them had expected to lose the convenient parking spaces until they supported the project.
“We were certainly shocked because we were very excited because we know it will be great when it’s done. It’s also a next step for us to be more exposed,” said Charoensombutamorin.
A few retail stores have been added behind the building on Turner Street. About a dozen more are around the corner down in Perry on the property on the left.
“They helped a lot, but with the cold weather, the cafe, we need a little comfort so you can come in and grab it,” said Charoensombutamorin.
The sisters are grateful to their loyal customers who continue to support them. They hope to make it through this difficult time.
“There’s no vaccine for an enclosed parking lot,” said Street. “If we can make it by then I think it would be great. That’s why we supported it from the start, we support the foundation all along the way. “
The Virginia Tech Foundation published this statement on the construction project in the parking lot of the 400 Turner St. Building:
The Virginia Tech Foundation is building a new development project in downtown Blacksburg near the Virginia Tech campus. The Gilbert Street project consists of a new 236,000-square-foot, five-story, mixed-use building with a rooftop restaurant / event space and a single-story pedestal parking structure to maximize on-site parking and support retail tenants. Floors two through five will be rented to Virginia Tech to meet the university’s growth needs, particularly the computer science department, which will rent two floors. The rooftop venue will include a restaurant as well as function rooms for private events. The first floor will consist of various retailers and restaurants.
Construction began last June and should be completed by winter 2022. The project will give the area a lot of economic impetus, including a lot of construction.
We recognize that, like all large construction projects, this project will cause inconvenience and disruption to existing businesses on the construction site, including disruption to available parking spaces. We are working closely with our tenants to minimize this disruption and meet their parking needs as all of the parking lot will not be available during construction, and we have worked with tenants whose challenges have arisen from the pandemic.
We look forward to the time the Gilbert Street project completes, which will result in more foot traffic and additional customers for our retail tenants.
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