Created to address the needs of an underserved community, Melrose Plaza will provide the resources to thrive. Among its amenities are a full-service grocery store, fully operational banking center, adult high school, and wellness center to benefit the entire city of Roanoke.

Roanoke was once home to the Valley’s “Black Wall Street”, and the historic Gainsboro area was a self-sufficient community, the center of Black culture and commerce.

Urban renewal in the 1950s decimated the community. Residents were displaced, and businesses, churches, and homes were destroyed. The impacts of this destruction remain today as vital services previously available in the area are now missing, including access to a full-service grocery store and vital healthcare services. Northwest Roanoke is classified as both a food desert and a medically underserved area.

Melrose Plaza will be a first-of-its-kind, transformational community center, uplifting the residents of Northwest Roanoke while creating a new model for revitalizing communities across the country.

Under the leadership of Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, whose mission is to eliminate poverty, Melrose Plaza will provide economic stability, education and career advancement, healthcare and family services, healthy food access, and more.

The origins of Melrose Plaza trace back to 2017 and the work of Northwest Food Access Initiative, a community collaborative spearheaded by NW residents, Roanoke College (Dr. Liz Ackley), the City of Roanoke, and many other community partners. The focus of this initiative was to study food scarcity in the community and develop solutions to address the concern. Melrose Plaza is the answer to those concerns and more.

We are not just plucked out because we’re over here in Northwest. We’re a main part of this city. We have culture, we have history, we have legacy, we have people who have businesses, people who have dreams, and I want everybody to realize that. We’re just like every other community; we just need a little help with our resources. We’re getting ready to fix that with Melrose Plaza.

Donna Davis

Melrose Plaza represents many firsts, including the first Goodwill-operated grocery store in the country and the first adult high school in Virginia. Honoring the unique culture of Northwest Roanoke, it is a visible symbol of positive change and community investment.

Operating as a center under one roof will make the services more accessible to community members. Using Goodwill’s existing structure means the initiatives will be able to become functional and available to the community more quickly, with the
first phase, Market on Melrose, slated to open late 2024.