As I stopped into my local coffee shop on Church Street in Vienna, I scanned some of the local headlines on my iPhone.
One headline teaser caught my eye:
Proposed Parking Garage
“makes no sense”
Since I was sitting there in Caffè Amouri pleasantly surprised to see it packed, had seen dozens of people walking down the street and on the W&OD bike path, and easily found a place to park in front of the Freeman House, that headline made me think about the future of “walkable” Vienna. There are some really positive things going on along that little commercial section of town that did not exist twenty years ago when my office was on the corner of Maple and Mill.
Back then, a plan to make Church Street more appealing went into effect which fixed the sidewalks, put in planters, streamlined the telephone poles, and laid the groundwork for a reinvigorated downtown area away from the traffic of Maple Avenue. That was radical and their “vision” is something we are benefiting from today.
These shops and restaurants are local
The parking garage story caught me by surprise since I had just admired a retail building that is being renovated to be a really charming destination location for a lucky retailer. Just last year it housed a small toy store named Once Upon a Time, and hopefully it will become another local retailer (read as:not a chain store).
Renovations like this bring excitement!
You see, the shops and restaurants along Church Street are local and provide a unique sense of community, and these are the things that are appealing to people who live here or are trying to find when they are relocating. Here is a realistic scenario: walk to the Town Green to see a free concert, then decide to eat at Bazin’s or Church Street Pizza, have dessert at Sweet City and then stroll over to Caffè Amouri.
All unique and really cool local establishments.
Now, the parking garage does seem like overkill to me, but I have often dined at Bazin’s and parked in their underground garage which really made the evening go much smoother. It did not take away from the small town charm but allowed us to park without the hassle of driving around the block to park in front of someone’s home.
I feel lucky to live here, and to help people buy homes who are hoping to get established in this community… especially where local people are investing in a unique area, and the community is responding with enthusiastic support.