One year later: Suffolk city leaders acquire, plan to demolish buildings damaged by tornado

Suffolk

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been one year since multiple buildings in downtown Suffolk were ripped to pieces by a tornado caused by Hurricane Isaias. The damaged property at West Washington and North Saratoga Streets, which is unsafe to enter, still stands.

The buildings that sat vacant for just over a year were acquired by the City of Suffolk a few weeks ago. The future of the properties is up the air, but some downtown business owners tell 10 On Your Side they have a few ideas of what they’d like to see.

“When we have customers coming in they’re always like ‘Man, we had to park way in the back’ or ‘I had to park around the corner,’ ‘I had to park here,’ ‘I had to park there,'” said Charles Boone of SNKRTUB.

Boone and his son Daequan co-own the shoe repair shop on Washington Street. They told 10 On Your Side they love watching downtown Suffolk grow but think more parking space is a necessity.

For a while, the men were using the vacant lot of the former Brandon House Furniture Store. The building currently sits in ruin as a result of last year’s tornado and has since been condemned, barricaded, and is now in control of the city.

While parking tops the list, Wall Street Cafe owner Domenick Epps wants to see more storefronts.

“As a business owner in this area, one of the things that we’re looking to do is acquire as many of these vacant buildings as possible and renovate them and bring some life back to downtown Suffolk,” Epps stated.

A City of Suffolk spokesperson sent the following to 10 On Your Side on Wednesday:

The City of Suffolk has acquired the properties at Washington Street and Saratoga Street that were damaged as a result of Hurricane Isaias within the last month. Surveying and engineering is currently underway. Once this effort is finalized, we look forward to working with the Suffolk City Council and our citizens on the future of these properties and our continued efforts to revitalize Downtown and provide open green space in conjunction with the Downtown Suffolk Master Plan. In addition, prior to the demolition of the older structures, the City is required to receive approval from the Historic Landmark Commission.

On Wednesday, the Courtland Volunteer Fire Department posted on social media recognizing the one-year anniversary of the destructive tornadoes in the Hampton Roads region.

“1 year ago today, we staffed our station in preparation for what Tropical Storm Isaias could potentially bring our area. Little did we know, our town would be hit hard by a strong tornado in the early morning hours. The scars still remain and are very visible but our great town has rebuilt and continues to rebuild back better than ever!” the fire department posted.

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