The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - 114
THEN & NOW
Towers Shopping Center
The 56-year-old strip center, unique in the valley when it opened in 1961, has remained a
strong location for local, regional and national retail.
JULIANNE RAINONE / ARCHIVAL IMAGE COURTESY OF THE VIRGINIA ROOM, ROANOKE PUBLIC LIBRARIES
THE YEAR 1961 WAS A NEW frontier
for retail in Roanoke.
Towers Shopping Center, built that year
at the corner of Brandon and Colonial avenues, was a novelty shopping concept at the
time. It was considered the area's first strip
retail center, opening just after Crossroads
Mall, Roanoke's first enclosed, air-conditioned mall, earlier that same year.
Both centers paved the way for the future of shopping in the Roanoke Valley as it
moved away from downtown's core to suburban centers.
Towers opened with a unique upper- and
lower-level layout, a small enclosed interior area that connected the two levels and a
myriad of local and national retailers, such
114 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
as J.C. Penney, Woolworth and Davidsons
Clothing for Men.
In this 1962 photo, A&P Food Stores
was an anchor retailer on Towers' lower
Through the years, retailers have come
and gone from Towers, including a movie
theater, S&S Cafeteria and Heironimus, a
long-time department store chain.
Despite vacancies over the years, the
295,000-square-foot Towers has remained
a viable community retail hub, while Crossroads now is a business center, housing the
corporate offices for Advance Auto Parts.
"I don't know of another commercial
property in this community that has been
more stable," says Larry Davidson, president
of Davidsons, about Towers. He remembers
Davidsons' Towers store where his father,
who previously ran the company, doubled
the shop's size because of its success.
Nowadays, Kroger and Petco are anchors on Towers' lower level. Its upper level
features the popular Fresh Market, JoAnn
Fabrics and Hallmark, as well as restaurant
chains, such as Mission BBQ, Wildflour
Café at Towers, Chipotle, newcomer Zoe's
Kitchen and others. Several service-oriented
businesses also have Towers locations, including FedEx, Planet Fitness and GNC.
At 56 years old, Towers is one of many
landmarks that bridges Roanoke's past and
-JENNY KINCAID BOONE