The Roanoke Valley offers a wide variety of real estate options, from downtown condos to four-square homes on wide tree-lined city streets and pristine new-style single family developments sprinkled along hillsides once devoted to agriculture.
Its metropolitan statistical area (MSA) includes the cities of Roanoke and Salem, the Town of Vinton and the counties of Botetourt, Craig, Roanoke and Franklin. The valley has a strong outdoor presence, including the 30-mile Roanoke River Greenway, in various stages of completion, bike routes and easy access to national forests, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Smith Mountain Lake, a residential-recreation area.
Because all roads bisecting the valley eventually lead to downtown Roanoke, including a spur from the parkway, this area serves as a starting point for a trek through neighborhoods
On any Sunday morning in downtown, residents can be found walking a dog in Elmwood Park or strolling from one of the condos in former commercial buildings to a coffee shop on the Roanoke City Market.
The downtown office-retail area boasts a mix of condos and new rental units, the latter developed in a former department store and a former cotton mill. Condo and townhome prices have a broad range, starting at $190,000 and going into the high six figures or above. Purchasers have included all ages, from young professional to retirees. In all cases, the buildings’ historic flavor has been retained, which is part of the charm of occupying them.
Development of Carilion Clinic’s new complex, including Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, which opens in fall 2010, and the destruction of old flour mill stacks alongside the Roanoke River have created an especially attractive link between downtown and the city’s best-known address, South Roanoke. An old-style trolley provides free transportation between the areas.
South Roanoke features a broad selection of housing, including high-rise condos aimed at empty nesters, rental condos attractive to the health-care professionals and single family dwellings that range from traditional four-squares to estates. Prices range from a few options at just under $200,000 to more than $1 million.
The heart of South Roanoke is its village center on Crystal Spring Avenue where a gourmet grocery sits amidst an old-style pharmacy, a 24-hour convenience store and restaurants that offer fare ranging from basic breakfast to sports-bar burgers and full scale dining.
Adjacent to South Roanoke, Mill Mountain, or Walnut Hill, as it is labeled on official maps, includes a mix of medium-size and estate-type homes, many restored by current residents.
The area is home to the Mill Mountain Greenway, which follows a pedestrian road to Mill Mountain Zoo and Park. The city’s spur to the Blue Ridge Parkway also runs along the edge of this community.
At the river level, Mill Mountain links to the few blocks of the established Riverland Road residential area, which has become especially popular with the completion of the Roanoke River Greenway along the river toward Vinton.
From Riverland Road, or Va. 116, you can travel into two formerly rural communities, Mount Pleasant in Roanoke County and Garden City in Roanoke, both sites of new home construction. Mount Pleasant, which is on the route to Smith Mountain Lake, is home to Ballyhack, a new national membership-only golf club.
Ranch homes in the new Reed Estates in Garden City start at $124,950, but average $650,000 for custom homes on one to six acres in nearby Loblolly Mill Estates.
A turn right at Garden City takes you back into South Roanoke through a parkway-like wooded area, or you can continue out to U.S. 220 and a growing Roanoke County residential area.
South Roanoke County
South Roanoke County is bisected by several main routes, including U.S. 220 and 221 and Va. 419. Average listing prices for new homes in this area are above $350,000.
U.S. 220 links Roanoke County to Franklin County. Farmettes and estate communities have developed off of this artery, including the Hunting Hills Country Club community near Roanoke City and entrances to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Travel through Hunting Hills, featuring many homes in the six figures, and you reach Starkey Road and Buck Mountain Road, both rural-like routes to south county. Starkey Road is home to Summerplace, with new homes up to $230,000. Buck Mountain, which winds its way back to 220, is the site of a new development, Faircrest, which also recognizes a demand for more modestly priced homes, such as ones up to $249,950. A great many housing levels are available in this area, however.
Paralleling U.S. 220 and the Blue Ridge Parkway, U.S. 221 links Roanoke County to Floyd County and provides access to some of the more recently developed communities. These include The Preserve at Two Ford, a collection of EarthCraft-certified homes, and Poplar Springs, a new custom-home development with lots selling for up to $179,950 and homes at $500,000-plus.
The Townes at Hidden Valley, near the county’s boundary with Salem, is planned for 86 dwellings at $325,000 and up.
Va. 419, which meanders through a retail and office area that includes West Village, an upscale shopping center, provides access to many residential communities as it leads into the city of Salem.
Salem is home to the valley’s other major medical facility, Lewis-Gale Medical Center, and to the private liberal arts college, Roanoke College. Salem maintains a fierce commitment to community pride, both through schools and a major sports complex that draws national events.
The Roanoke River is a major attraction as it flows through the city limits, offering walking paths and fishing spots.
The city was chartered in 1802 and the original architecture of many structures close to downtown has been carefully preserved. Its compact downtown includes a variety of specialty shops and antiques stores.
Next to the commercial area is the municipal golf course and established housing, both historic and newer. Average home sales in Salem are around $240,000. The city’s latest residences include North Oaks with patio homes starting at $270,000, and Foxfield at Russlen Farms, $279,950 and up.
Southwest Roanoke City
Leaving downtown Salem, take Apperson Drive until it becomes Brandon Avenue as you head back into southwest Roanoke City, or return to 419 and enter the city by way of Brambleton or Colonial avenues. All of the routes bring you through established communities where average sales prices last year were around $200,000. Newer construction here includes Colonial Green with single family and townhomes up to $395,000, and Maple Leaf Farms, $500,000-plus custom homes on Grandin Road Extension in the Greater Deyerle neighborhood.
Greater Deyerle sits next to Grandin Court and Raleigh Court, older, but popular areas of Roanoke. Roanoke’s Fishburn Park and its Murray Run Greenway are part of these communities.
The “Grandin” name also is prominent in the Raleigh Court neighborhood, which includes Grandin Village. This seeming town within a city includes the vintage Grandin Theatre, a natural foods co-op, furniture and hardware stores, numerous restaurants and a community farmers market. The area of well-maintained established homes, including many large ones, is known for its family-oriented events that draw fans from throughout the valley. Homes in the area run in the $160,000-$300,000 range.
From Raleigh Court, cross Memorial into Historic Old Southwest, home to a prominent restaurant and bakery, Wildflour, and Rose Hill Bed and Breakfast. Old Southwest and is home to a tenacious group of residents that values purity in design and preservation.
In addition to helping renovate homes, the community lobbied to get the city’s first public dog park – in Highland Park – and maintains a historic building in the park as its center. Little new development takes place here, although Woods Avenue Townhouses, three- and four-bedroom homes selling for up to $325,000, are under way.
Northwest Roanoke, Williamson Road
Back on Memorial Avenue, proceed to Patterson Avenue, which moves through a commercial corridor to the Loudon-Melrose neighborhood in northwest Roanoke. This area was once considered a suburb of the city created when streetcar lines were first built. Houses date to the 1920s.
Access to the Williamson Road area is easy from Loudon-Melrose. Williamson Roanoke is a collection of communities defined by I-581, the city limits and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks. Some 15 percent of the city residents live in this area, which includes the Roanoke Civic Center, the Roanoke Regional Airport and its largest shopping mall, Valley View.
Williamson Road remains a nostalgia focus for longtime residents who cruised it in the 1950s and still do today in antique cars on most fair-weather weekends. The residential streets that link to Williamson contain some of the city’s most available homes in a variety of sizes and styles including foursquare and Tudor. Average sale prices are just under $200,000. Many of these homes have been rediscovered by young families new to the area.
Among new development here is Willow Walk, ranches and one-and-a-half story homes starting at $199,950.
North and East Roanoke County, Botetourt County
Continuing northeast leads to Hollins University in Roanoke County, with its internationally known creative writing program. It sits near an area annexed by the city in 1976 and which includes a mix of established and newer construction, including large-scale and patio homes.
The Hollins area connects via rural roads to north and east Roanoke County where considerable development has taken place near the border with Botetourt County. Among new projects here is The Gables at The Orchards, off Huntridge Road, with an initial phase of houses starting at $299,950.
Botetourt County provides a source for farms and upscale and developed communities. It has broad recreational opportunities in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest and on walking trails at the county’s new sports complex.
The south part of the county serves as a bedroom community. The new mixed-use Daleville Town Center features custom EarthCraft homes among 300 residences planned in sizes ranging from 942 to 5,000 square feet.
Ashley Plantation golf community and Orchards of Ashley at Botetourt remain prominent among the county’s housing offerings in this area, which also include historic homes in the town of Fincastle. Average sale prices in the Daleville area are close to $500,000, while around $150,000 is an average sales price for the entire county.
Among newer construction in the county is The Villas at Botetourt, a townhome development at Troutville where prices start at $144,950.