The towns of Narrows and Pembroke have received a planning grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to develop an economic restructuring plan focused on downtown revitalization. The goal of the project is to identify projects that will increase the economic benefits the towns receive from visitors to their numerous outdoor recreation assets. Both towns have popular attractions, from hiking trails and wilderness areas such as the Cascades and Mill Creek, to public parks and access points for fishing, kayaking and other watersports on the New River.

The towns will use the planning grant to prioritize projects that can help their communities to attract and welcome visitors, and support the restaurants, lodging, shops and other businesses in their downtown areas who can serve the visitors other recreation needs. A team of community stakeholders is helping to select projects that are most important to improving the downtown areas, and to raise awareness for property owners and other community organizations to participate in the project. Over the next several years, the towns will be eligible to apply for larger grants from DHCD to undertake construction projects, infrastructure improvements, and other economic development projects in both towns.

In October, a team of community and government representatives visited Marion, VA to learn from their town officials about efforts to develop the downtown area of their town. The town’s efforts include many DHCD infrastructure and streetscaping grants, participation in the Virginia Main Street program, as well as providing financing and business counseling services to new downtown-based start-up businesses.

In November, DCHD staff will come to Giles County to meet with the local team, and finalize the scope of the tasks to complete during the grant project, such as hiring consultants to develop master plan technical documents for the project. The downtown revitalization planning grant process is expected to take about a year, and will be complete in summer or fall 2016.

For further information, please contact Patrick O’Brien ( or 540-639-9313, ext. 206.