The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 51

which could be done on its own without a requirement
that the others be done at the same time. Some of the
memorable projects, not in order of importance:
* Market Square, farmers' stalls, City Market Building
* Center in the Square and parking garage
* Campbell Ave. mini mall and transportation center
* Williamson Road parking garage
* Pedestrian bridge to the Hotel Roanoke
* Elmwood Park expansion and upgrade
* Main Library expansion
* Street lights, benches and trees
* Century Plaza across from Fire Station #1
* Entranceway fountain and park
* New building for Blue Cross Blue Shield
* New convention space for the Hotel Roanoke of
53,000 square feet
* Starlight gardens, botanical gardens and new housing
* Firehouse #1 renovation
* Market stage and theater lights for the square
* Townhouses
* Historic District (the first in Roanoke)
Surprisingly, the large citizens committee, the business
committee and city staff all were in unanimous agreement
on the projects that should be in the final plan.
Now we were left with going to the citizens with a bond
referendum. Mayor Taylor and I negotiated a budget
number we could both live with $15.5 million. City Council approved our budget and plan without change and we
went to the public for a vote. The Roanoke Chamber of
Commerce funded the public information documents
for the referendum and the referendum was approved by
a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. Approved on the
first try! That $15.5 million investment yielded over $300
million in private investment and inspired nearly 2 million
square feet of historic building renovation.
There was turbulence in Roanoke City Council at
the next election due to the reassessment increases in
housing values. A tax revolt if you will. This unhappi-

In addition, I insisted that we have a
storefront office on Market Square, so
citizens could walk in and give ideas.
ness brought into office four new council members who
were opponents of the business leadership. I worked with
them as my new bosses and was able to continue our
revitalization efforts.
I'll never forget Council Member Jimmy Harvey, a
strong supporter of neighborhoods, lecturing me on his
pet peeve.
"Bern," he said, "you can build as many garages as you
want as long as you don't use city money." Harvey was a
wonderful supporter of the Neighborhood Partnership,
of housing rehab in neighborhoods and of upgrading
public safety. He was a good council member whose
fierce independence is illustrated by another anecdote:
Once as he was running for reelection, he expressed a
fear the newspaper would endorse him and cost him his
seat. They didn't. He won handily.
The overall myth that needs to be addressed in the
Design '79 success story is that business leaders made
all of the decisions and guided all of the final decisions.
This is simply and definitively not true. They were
partners in designing the plan. It was the citizens of
Roanoke who decided what the final plan should be,
and Roanoke's citizens who approved the expenditures.
We listed the projects we would build and built them
as promised. By 1983 The Market District became Roanoke's first National Historic District and was later
named one of the 62 Great Public Places in America by
the Lyndhurst Foundation of New York City, along with
places such as New York's Central Park and the Vietnam
Memorial. The National Trust for Historic Preservation
acknowledged all of this work with a Certificate of Commendation in Preservation in 1983. I

THE CENTERPIECE:
CENTER IN THE SQUARE
Center in the Square was a particularly interesting element of the Design '79 project. The business leadership,
comprised of Ed Mattern of Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern, Jack Hancock of Roanoke Electric Steel and George
Cartledge of Grand Piano and Furniture, concluded that they wanted to bring the Fine Arts Museum, History
Museum, Mill Mountain Theatre and a new science museum into a new organization which would be called
Center in the Square.
The designers and I worked to show the pros and cons of separate buildings versus a single building, which
was chosen. We supported rehabilitating a large, concrete, farm-implement structure, the MacGuire Building
and adding new construction for the Fine Arts Center, the new science museum, Mill Mountain Theatre, the
History Museum and a four-story parking garage. This project is the only one which the business committee
chose unilaterally, as they were going to fund the project with private and state money. No city money went into
the project; however, we acquired federal funds to build the adjacent parking garage. Without this garage the
project would not have proceeded. It was the largest building restoration in the history of the city and served
as an example of how old buildings could be restored and reused. -BE
THE

R OANOKER.COM

About the writer: Bern
Ewert was Roanoke City
Manager from 1978 until 1985, when he shook
the city by resigning to
head the Explore Park
project. Prior to coming to Roanoke, he held
management positions in
Stratford, Connecticut and
Charlottesville. Today he is
a principal in The Bridges
project under construction
along Jefferson Street just
north of Carilion Roanoke
Memorial Hospital.
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014

51


http://www.THEROANOKER.COM

The Roanoker - September/October 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - September/October 2014

Digital Help Guide
From the Publisher
The Look
The 360
The Gossip
The Flavor
The Gist
The Calendar
Roanoke in the Year 2054
Appreciations and Deprecations: Perspectives on Roanoke Over the Years
What Really Happened with Design ‘79?
The Poff Building Debacle
Roanoke Then & Now
40 Stars of 40 Years
Covers Great, Covers Not-So-Great
Green Building
Restaurants of Old … and Still Here!
Dining: Fiji Island and the New Yorker Deli
The Dish
The Perfect Weekend
Retire-VA
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Intro
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Cover1
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Cover2
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 3
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 4
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 5
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 6
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 7
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Digital Help Guide
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 9
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - From the Publisher
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 11
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Look
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 13
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The 360
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 15
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Gossip
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 17
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Flavor
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 19
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Gist
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 21
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 22
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Calendar
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 24
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 25
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 26
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 27
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 28
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 29
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Roanoke in the Year 2054
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 31
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 32
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 33
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 34
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 35
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 36
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 37
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 38
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 39
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Appreciations and Deprecations: Perspectives on Roanoke Over the Years
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 41
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 42
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 43
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 44
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 45
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 46
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 47
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - What Really Happened with Design ‘79?
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 49
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 50
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 51
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Poff Building Debacle
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 53
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 54
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 55
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Roanoke Then & Now
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 57
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 40 Stars of 40 Years
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 59
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 60
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 61
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 62
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 63
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 64
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 65
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 66
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 67
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 68
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 69
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 70
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 71
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 72
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 73
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 74
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 75
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 76
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 77
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 78
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 79
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 80
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 81
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 82
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Covers Great, Covers Not-So-Great
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 84
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 85
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 86
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 87
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 88
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Green Building
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 90
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 91
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 92
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 93
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 94
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 95
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 96
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 97
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 98
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Retire-VA
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R2
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R3
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R4
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R5
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R6
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R7
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R8
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R9
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R10
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R11
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R12
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R13
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R14
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R15
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R16
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R17
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R18
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R19
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R20
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R21
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R22
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R23
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R24
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R25
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R26
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R27
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R28
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R29
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R30
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R31
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R32
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Restaurants of Old … and Still Here!
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 100
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 101
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 102
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 103
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Dining: Fiji Island and the New Yorker Deli
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 105
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 106
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 107
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 108
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 109
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Dish
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 111
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 112
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 113
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - The Perfect Weekend
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Cover3
The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - Cover4
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