The City of Danville implemented a development plan for its “River District,” generally consisting of the traditional central business district, historic tobacco warehouse district and manufacturing area, and contiguous areas. This area has been the commercial and administrative heart of the city since 1790s.
In 2013, the City of Danville adopted design guidelines for the look and feel of the district. The Design Guidelines list appropriate materials, outline procedures and explain what type of architectural elements are expected for the district’s existing buildings and new construction. A seven-member commission has been appointed to enforce the guidelines.
In addition, three phases of streetscape improvements are complete and a fourth phase is underway. These phases are bringing a fresh look to Main and Craghead streets, with new sidewalks, brick pavers, streetlight poles, benches and landscaping. Public, outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots are now available in the River District. Wayfinding signage and utilities upgrades are in place. Patton Street now allows two-way traffic to provide better access to businesses and parking lots serving stores on Main Street. New parking areas are open at 500 Main St. and the former Acree's warehouse on Bridge Street. A completed parking study serves as a guide for the future.
The new amenities also feature the JTI Fountain and Main Street Plaza, which quickly has become one of Danville's favorite public gathering spaces. A new trailhead for the Riverwalk Trail is in place, and a pedestrian lane on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge connects walking trails on the north and south side of the Dan River.
Public seeding also has resulted in the purchase of once vacant, deteriorating buildings. These buildings are stabilized and then returned to the private market for repurposing for commercial and residential uses.
As a result of the new amenities and stabilization of buildings, private investments are being made in the district, and they outpace public seeding by three-fold. New to the River District over the last year is Ballad Brewing, the district’s first brewpub and a taco tequila bar, called Much Taqueria. Soon they will be joined by a specialty grocery store and a second brewpub. Urban living options continue to grow, with the continuing construction of apartments for lease.
Today, the River District boasts a new look and vibe thanks. To capture the spirit of the changes and to send a clear message within and outside the Danville community about what makes the district special, the city in 2015 unveiled a new brand for the district. The brand uses the tagline slogan: "Danville River District: Reimagine That." Our message is clear, here in the River District, the status quo is a no go.
The River District is a vital element to the future of Danville and the surrounding region.