City seeks private investment in downtown

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — The city’s downtown area has seen no small amount of investment in Rockingham in recent years, but very little of it spearheaded by private sources.

John Massey, city planner, said Tuesday during the city’s annual budget work session at Hinson Lake he’d like Mayor Steve Morris and the City Council to consider a facade improvement program.

A Richmond County Chamber of Commerce photo City officials were part of the gathering when Pattan's Downtown Grille celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. But the project was spearheaded by the city, and officials on Tuesday lamented the lack of private investment.

A Richmond County Chamber of Commerce photo
City officials were part of the gathering when Pattan’s Downtown Grille celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. But the project was spearheaded by the city, and officials on Tuesday lamented the lack of private investment.

The program would work like this: On pre-approved projects, a property owner or business owner (with the proper owner’s permission) could complete projects up to $10,000 and be reimbursed up to half the cost, or a maximum of $5,000.

The program isn’t currently funded in the draft Fiscal Year 2016 budget as presented during Tuesday’s retreat. Massey said he hoped the city could apply for a Cole Foundation grant to spur the first few projects.

Massey said if the program is approved, City Council would appoint a review committee that would ensure projects would be “aesthetically compatible with downtown.”

City officials said there seemed to be no better time than now to invest in the downtown area, what with the addition of Discovery Place KIDS children’s science museum, Hitchcock Place and the recently opened Pattan’s Downtown Grille and the recently completed $63,000 streetscape project.

If awarded a grant, businesses would be required to complete the facade improvement project within nine months following project approval.

This image shows the boundary of the proposed Downtown Facade Improvement Grant District in Rockingham.

This image shows the boundary of the proposed Downtown Facade Improvement Grant District in Rockingham.

In addition, property owners or business tenants also could receive facade design assistance — up to 10 percent of the $5,000 facade improvement grant — if a professional architect or designer is hired.

 

 

Filed in: Business, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Rockingham

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  • Walt Easterling

    Nice omission of Sandhills Alternative Academy’s offices and Ella’s Ballroom. I wonder if the city of Rockingham would make this retroactive since the work is already done. :)

    • Kevin Spradlin

      Mr. Easterling, the projects noted within the article are those that were mentioned by city officials during today’s budget meeting. For my part, it was certainly not intentional to leave your building off the list and excluded from the article.

      I’m confident their list was not intended to be all-inclusive but merely mentioning the most recent, and most visible – in terms of public visibility – projects.

      When was the work at Sandhills Alternative Academy’s offices and Ella’s Ballroom started/completed?

      • Walt Easterling

        The renovations to the office side were completed last year, while the work on the ballroom was completed (for the most part) the first week in May. I apologize for any fiery darts, it just seems that most folks feel the downtown area revolves around that one block, and that just isn’t the case. I did note the map above, which included the old Ethel’s building. A facelift for the whole area would certainly be nice. The job we undertook was no small task, and I plan to make a few more changes to the outside appearance.

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