Revitalizing Riverdale with a New Viscose Fabric Plant

The Riverdale project aims to transform the former viscose fabric plant into a vibrant multifunctional space.

Developer Ed Walker’s ambitious Riverdale project in Roanoke commenced with the removal and recycling of over 2 million pounds of debris, symbolizing 30 weeks of continuous progress. This redevelopment endeavor, situated on the former American Viscose Plant site spanning 100 acres, seeks to metamorphose the viscose fabric plant into a dynamic space integrating arts, culture, dining, sports, recreation, professional venues, and residential spaces.

Visionary Leadership and Comprehensive Plannin

Walker, highlighting the project’s accelerated timeline, mentioned being six months ahead of schedule. Emphasizing inclusivity, he envisions Riverdale as an inviting space for individuals from diverse backgrounds and all corners of the city.

Introducing the lead planning firm for the Riverdale project, Baskervill, Walker selected the Richmond-based architecture firm from eight options. Burt Pinnock, Baskervill’s principal and board chair, outlined plans for community engagement towards crafting a comprehensive Riverdale master plan, set to commence in early 2024.

Walker acknowledged environmental concerns stemming from the site’s history as a defunct factory. Engaged in a voluntary remediation program with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Riverdale aims to identify and address historical contamination issues from the Viscose plant and other industries that once occupied the area.

Sustainable Repurposing of Viscose Fabric

The transformative potential of viscose fabric is evident in the project’s commitment to environmental sustainability and repurposing. While repurposing the old rayon factory, Riverdale’s focus on sustainable materials, including viscose fabric, aligns with modern eco-conscious practices.

The proximity of an active chemical plant adds complexity to the redevelopment. Chemsolv Inc., neighboring the proposed development, was cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2014 for improper hazardous waste storage. The subsequent consent order with DEQ aims to close and remediate the underground tank known as “the pit.” Recent tests indicate decreasing trends in groundwater contamination related to the pit, with further evaluations underway before a final decision on the consent order.

Despite the challenges, Walker remains optimistic, stating, “There’s a solution and a remedy for everything we found.” Baskervill’s extensive experience in Roanoke positions the Riverdale project as a potential crown jewel for the firm. City Manager Bob Cowell commends Walker’s bold development efforts, acknowledging the transformative impact on Roanoke’s quality of life.

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