Five Forks in Danville moving toward revitalization

Since relocating his computer-repair business to Five Forks from Franklin Turnpike about 18 months ago, Steve Barrow has seen his customer volume surge.

“I’ve seen a 40% to 50% increase in business since moving here from [Virginia] 41,” Barrow, owner of Hammer Hill Computers at 815 Wilson St., said during an interview outside his establishment last week.

Barrow gets customers not just from the neighborhood and other parts of Danville, but from across the North Carolina line from Pelham and Yanceyville.

Besides a convenience store, Hammer Hill Computers is the only operating business in Five Forks, which includes the area where Pine Street, Jefferson Street and Jefferson Avenue meet, as well as Loyal Street toward downtown. It is in the vicinity of the Old West End and downtown.

But another establishment, Dog Daze Wood-Fired Oven, is expected to open up at 807 Pine St. this summer. It will offer wood-fired pizza, salad, ice cream and gelato, as well as beer and liquor.

Owner Jeramy Nichols told the Danville Register & Bee last month he wants to bring a neighborhood gathering place to Five Forks.

The area has historically been a commercial part of the city and local officials want to revitalize it. There are nine structures at Five Forks that are zoned as commercial, with buildings there under renovation, said Danville Planning Director Renee Burton.

“The city of Danville is experiencing growth in both the public and private sector, commercial and residential,” said Kelvin Perry, assistant director of economic development and tourism for Danville. “Many areas of the city are experiencing revitalization and growth. This growth offers opportunities for businesses and residents that are interested in locating near downtown and the River District.”

Officials have also been working on establishing a “passive recreation area,” a green space with a pedestrian path and other features, connecting Pine Street and Jefferson Avenue.

City planning officials plan for the kudzu-covered, one-and-half-acre spot to also include sitting areas, a shelter and a lawn space for small gatherings.

The city hired McGill Consulting to come up with a conceptual design for the Old West End Commons park area for about $39,000 in April 2022.

The Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority has received conceptual plans for construction of the green space, Burton said.

Five Forks is believed by city officials to be named for the five streets that intersect and create the area.

The Danville Historical Society saved the building at 807 Pine St. from being torn down years ago, said Robin Marcato, the group’s executive director. Old Oak Wood & Stone LLC, owned by Nichols, bought the structure from the group in January 2018 for $25,000.

“The Five Forks area has a fascinating history and reusing and restoring the older buildings is economically smart,” Marcato told the Register & Bee. “Reuse is a sustainable practice that preserves our stories for future generations and engenders hometown pride. To do all that and get pizza? Perfection!”

Nichols’ building dates back to at least the 1920s, when it was a wholesale and retail meat market owned by Philip Greenberg, according to information provided by the historical society.

It has housed numerous businesses over the years, including a service station and a laundromat, Nichols said during an interview last month. The building was used as a laundromat in the 1960s, Marcato said.

When the historical society bought the building and had a new roof installed because the building was at risk, Marcato said.

As for the overall Five Forks area, commercial development began in that part of Danville between 1877 and 1890, according to an Old West End blog. The west side of Jefferson Street between Jefferson Avenue and Pine Street had three stores, including two grocers and a tailor, in 1899, according to the blog.

As for Barrow, he believes the upcoming wood-fired pizza eatery will help revive Five Forks.

“It’s good we’re putting restaurants and other things into it,” Barrow said, adding that he would like to see an arcade or a trampoline park in the area for kids.

He pointed out the splash pad that is almost complete along nearby Green Street at Doyle Thomas Park.

“I’m glad to see the splash pad coming to the park,” he said. “That will be something for kids to do.”

He’s looking forward to the pizza restaurant.

“Oh definitely,” Barrow said when asked if he will go there. “I could see it be a hit with college students.”

Original Article Here (by John Crane, Danville Register & Bee)