The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 85

July 17, 1917: Production of rayon yarn
launched in Roanoke by American
Viscose
1920s: Dormitory built for young single
women workers
1928: Viscose at its peak with 5,500
employees
1958: Viscose closes plant because
of competition from more modern
plants, eliminating 2,000 jobs
1961: Group of Roanoke business
owners invests in the abandoned
factory, creating an industrial park

NOW

18 industrial buildings
1 million square feet total space under
roof, another 1 million underground
127 tenants (92 in the park for more
than five years)
2,000 employees (estimated)
56 acres, total industrial park area
95% occupancy at the end of 2019
-DS

VISCOSE BY THE NUMBERS

THEN

1910: British manufacturer Courtaulds
determines to build rayon plants in
the U.S.

VISCOSE: BACK TO LIFE

WILL TRINKLE

residences in a four-story industrial building that was bought by developer
Ed Walker a few years ago. The center received historic district status this
past summer, paving the way for tax credits, which Walker has used in
the past to renovate old buildings into desirable living spaces in Roanoke.
Creating this type of village at a cluttered, busy site in the flood plain of
the Roanoke River will be quite the challenge, according to Trinkle, citing
the flow of materials in and out of the center as a concern.
"We have significantly cleaned up the open lots and have installed green
screening," he says. "We clean up and add security lighting as we go, as
improvements to buildings with new tenants. You will continue to see
improvement as we work our way around the park.
Walker's plans are applauded by another area developer, John Garland.
"His building would be terrific for this former industrial area and for
Southeast Roanoke in general," says Garland. "It could be transformative,
as it would bring in potentially young educated professionals and creatives."
Beginning yet another new life for old property. I

DAN SMITH

TheRoanoker.com

MARCH/APRIL 2020 85


http://www.TheRoanoker.com

The Roanoker - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - March/April 2020

The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Intro
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover2
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 3
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The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover3
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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