Liqour selections

State liquor store can return to downtown Roanoke after 22 years away | Local News

Critics of an ABC liquor store project in downtown Roanoke predict it will increase public drinking and intoxication and possibly increase clutter and litter.

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority is negotiating a lease to open the store in late summer or early fall at 121 Campbell Ave. SE, said Dawn Eischen, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The owner of the building, which is next to Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea, warned that no final decision has been made.

“I wouldn’t say it’s done. It could go either way,” said Don Petersen, owner of Metropolitan Properties LLC, which owns the building.

ABC management sought public comment on Feb. 16, reviewed it, and voted on March 22 to move the project forward, Eischen said. The store’s purpose is to “provide greater convenience to customers and generate revenue for the Commonwealth,” Eischen said.

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That’s not all the store would generate, said critics, who disagree with retail liquor in an area frequented by homeless people and a center of nightlife.

“Anyone who wants booze will get booze, but I don’t think the walk-in convenience of hard liquor is in the best interests of our visiting friends or those they interact with on a regular basis” , wrote Jonathan Shup, who runs a store near the proposed location and contacted ABC to oppose the project.

“Right now, beer and wine are what our underprivileged friends have the easiest access to downtown. And even that caused significant problems,” read Shup’s letter, which was released by the agency on Friday in response to a request from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Shun also claimed that broken miniature liquor bottles littered some public parking lots on Saturday and Sunday mornings and predicted that a new ABC store would increase that and public consumption.

Roanoke resident Kevin Berry said in his letter of objection, “My fear is that people who experience homelessness will see their situation worsen and that residents of downtown Roanoke will have more problems manage than before. This is especially the case if alcohol is to be sold in single (miniature) servings or other small quantities that will promote alcohol consumption on sidewalks, in the market and in other public places to the detriment of our community. .

Berry commented as a private citizen, using private email, and not as a community outreach and marketing manager at the Roanoke Rescue Mission, he said.

In addition to negative comments, the proposal has received positive feedback, the state official said. She wasn’t specific, but downtown residents said in a 2018 survey that they would love to have an ABC store in the neighborhood, according to Downtown Roanoke Inc.

The ABC said in a statement that the majority of comments received supported the store’s plan. The issues raised by the reviews “do not reflect the ABC store experiences we have had in similar communities across the Commonwealth”.

Other factors that went into the site selection decision included location demographics, population density, traffic patterns, rental rate, accessibility, feasibility of deliveries, distance from to existing stores, sales at those stores and the mix of adjacent tenants, the ABC said.

An ABC store in the 400 block of South Jefferson Street closed in January 2000, with the state citing declining sales as the reason for the closure, according to Roanoke Times coverage at the time.

The last user of 121 Campbell was a church, which moved. Decades ago, it housed an ABC store, Petersen said.