The 1925 building that once housed Calvary Baptist Church in Roanoke has been sold to Richard Macher, who owns the chain of Macado's restaurants. Photo by Megan Schnabel.

Former Roanoke church building sold for redevelopment

A Roanoke restaurateur has bought a century-old former church building with plans to redevelop the property.

DoCalvary LLC, an entity affiliated with Richard Macher, who owns the Macado’s restaurant chain, paid $1.15 million for the Calvary Baptist Church building on Campbell Avenue in Roanoke, according to a news release from Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, which handled the sale.

The new owner plans to redevelop the property, the release said, but specific plans haven’t been disclosed. The building is just west of downtown, next to the Jefferson Center.

The church put the 1925 building on the market in 2020. The Rev. Steve Pollard, its pastor, told The Roanoke Times that the decision was a response to declining membership and the high cost of maintaining the building. The congregation currently holds its services at Colonial Avenue Baptist Church.

Macher is already involved in another significant downtown redevelopment project: the former Roanoke Times press building, which he bought this year for $2.2 million. He told the newspaper that he plans to convert it into apartments.

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State funds transit projects in Southwest Virginia, Richmond, Loudoun

The Commonwealth Transportation Board this week approved three projects that will expand transit services around the state, including one in Southwest Virginia.

The projects are funded through the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s Transit Ridership Incentive Program, or TRIP, according to a news release from the department.

The 2020 General Assembly session established TRIP with the goals of improving the regional connectivity of urban areas and reducing barriers to transit use for low-income riders.

Among the projects funded is an expansion of Radford Transit’s route that connects Christiansburg to Radford and Blacksburg. The route, which currently operates while universities are in session, will be expanded to run all day and throughout the year. The three-year project will cost $653,963 and will be paid for with state and local funds.

The other two projects are in the Richmond area, where the Greater Richmond Transit Co. will launch microtransit routes to better connect riders to its existing fixed routes, and in Northern Virginia, where Loudoun County Transit will launch four new routes that connect to stations on Metro’s new Silver Line.

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Virginia Tech helmet ratings expand to include equestrians

Researchers in the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab have released their first set of equestrian helmet ratings.

Of the 40 models included in this initial set of ratings, two earned the top score of five stars, according to a news release from the school. Eleven earned four, and the rest earned three or below. The researchers found that price isn’t necessarily a predictor of quality: One of the two five-star helmets retails for $460, and the other for $58. 

Over the past two years, Virginia Tech researchers analyzed more than 100 videos of riders falling off horses, measured the hardness of surfaces and simulated falls using dummies. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.

This is the ninth major ratings release since researchers began rating helmets in 2011. They have tested and rated helmets for football, soccer, cycling, hockey, snow sports and whitewater sports.

Equestrian sports attract about 30 million participants in the U.S. every year and account for 50,000 trips to the emergency room for concussions and other brain injuries. That’s more than any other sport in America, according to researchers.

“Most people are surprised to learn that,” said Stefan Duma, the Harry Wyatt Professor of Engineering and the Helmet Lab’s founder. “But when you think about the height of a horse and the distance a rider would fall, that translates into a high impact energy.”

The research was funded by private donors, led by equestrian enthusiast and philanthropist Jacqueline Mars and three national equestrian foundations: the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association, the U.S. Equestrian Federation and the U.S. Eventing Association. 

The equestrian ratings, and those for the other sports the lab has studied, are available on the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings website, along with the corresponding test methods.