The Williamson Road Business District is an older commercial area that was plagued by a number of existing problems. Those problems were deteriorating curbing, guttering and sidewalks; poor ingress/egress from Williamson Road; excessive public/private signage; conflicts between pedestrians and automobiles; absence of any landscaping and other visual and pedestrian amenities; and obsolete commercial buildings which predate current zoning requirements. These conditions have an impact on the adjacent residential neighborhoods where over twenty five percent of the City’s population lives.
WRABA was formed in 1981. On May 24, 1993, City Council adopted ordinance number 31427, establishing the Williamson Road Area Special Service District (SSD). The creation of the SSD was in order to “provide additional governmental services not being offered uniformly throughout the entire City, included but not limited to, economic and business development and promotional activities intended to foster business retention, business recruitment; planning for the development or revitalization of the Williamson Road Area and for the transportation needs of the Williamson Road Area and to create a more attractive environment in the Williamson Road Area”
The Williamson Road Area Business Association signed an agreement with the City of Roanoke to administer the SSD project in 1993. The business district has seen many improvements and continues to grow. The SSD provides for the collection of an additional $.10 per $100 valuation of real estate on Williamson Road between Orange Avenue and City limits north.
The Williamson Road Area Business Association, Inc. (WRABA) is a nonprofit [501C (6)], voluntary membership organization that exists to encourage, foster and initiate economic development and quality of life improvements in the Williamson Road Area.
WRABA’s general goals are:
• Be a unified voice to represent area business interests.
• Provide a forum for business owners/managers to discuss concerns.
• Disseminate information to educate the rest of the Valley about area business/services
• Serve as an effective action group to pursue certain projects.
• Be a point of contact for interested developers and investors.
• Create opportunities for skill development/problem solving/networking.
Specifically, through the following Fiscal Year 2011/2012 work plan and budget, WRABA intends to focus on projects that will:
• Lead to the Implementation of the “Strategic Plan for the Williamson Road Corridor”.
• Increase membership and quality of member experience.
• Aggressively market and promote area businesses and services.
• Continue to work closely with the City to develop innovative programs for the area.
• Focus on maintaining and upgrading existing landscaping and litter can projects.
• Focus on WRABA’s organizational development and image within the community.
• Encourage property owners and businesses to reinvest in their real estate and business.