Downtown Fredericksburg icon Roxbury Farm & Garden Center has closed, but flowers will eventually bloom there again.

The Rappahannock Area Community Services Board purchased the Roxbury property at the corner of Lafayette Boulevard and Jackson Street for $3.75 million, and plans to move its office and some operations there, including its horticulture program.

“We are excited about the Roxbury purchase, as this will allow RACSB to expand, evolve and diversify our services,” board Chairwoman Debbie Draper said in a news release.

RASCB serves individuals with behavioral health or developmental concerns in Planning District 16, and has outgrown its space in the Ronald W. Branscome building at 600 Jackson St. Its board of directors decided to purchase the Roxbury property, which is a block away, after the business announced in February that it was going out of business after 90 years.

“The Farm & Garden Center has been a terrific community partner over the years, so we were sad to learn it was closing,” RACSB Executive Director Jane McDonald Yaun said in a news release. “But we also saw a chance to help more people and to better serve the public. We were fortunate to gain both the property and the garden center’s general manager, Andy Lynn, who is now running our horticulture program for adults with developmental disability.”

RASCB will spend nine months to a year planning how it will use Roxbury’s site to expand the horticulture program and create more employment for adults with disabilities. It also hopes to establish new services that are not available in the community, and Yaun has been studying programs across the country to get ideas.

Moving its Fredericksburg offices there will also free up space in the Branscome building for clinical services, including the new Same Day Access program available at all community service board sites in Virginia. It lets anyone receive a mental health, substance abuse or addiction assessment during walk-in hours instead of waiting days or even weeks. Walk-in hours are available at the RASCB location in each locality in Planning District 16, but the Fredericksburg office is the only one where medical assistance treatment is available.

In the last fiscal year, a total of 3,564 area residents took advantage of same-day access at RASCB’s offices, and the numbers are growing every month, said spokeswoman Amy Umble.

The board most likely won’t break ground on the Roxbury property for at least a year. It doesn’t plan to keep most of the buildings, although city officials have asked that they keep two. One is the brick building that was Roxbury’s sales center and office.

“I don’t know about the greenhouse,” Umble said. “It will depend on our horticulture program.”

RACSB does hope to maintain some of the Roxbury property’s history and has talked to an architect about options for keeping the 31-foot-wide mural on the back of one of the garden center’s warehouses.

“Nearly 300 volunteers came together in 2007 to tell a colorful story about our region’s diversity,” the Rev. Lawrence Davies, a former Fredericksburg City mayor who sits on RACSB’s board of directors, said in the release. “This beloved mural sprang from that collaboration, and its richness comes from the various items volunteers brought to place in the artwork. This is not unlike RACSB, which partners with the community to help individuals live to their fullest potential.”

Yaun was also cognizant of the connection between the land’s history and its future.

“For 90 years, Roxbury Farm & Garden [Center] has helped our community thrive and bloom,” she said in the release. “We look forward to continuing that tradition by using this land to help our neighbors flourish in spite of challenges they may face.”

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Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

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