Chamber, DSDC leaders: Downtown is on the right path
BY HALEY JONES
A city’s downtown business landscape is subject to constant changes and improvements. The same can be said for the development of Downtown Statesville.
This past year, the city’s core has experienced closures, moves and additions that have reshaped what Statesville citizens have come to know as their downtown.
The changes started with the completion of the streetscape in 2015, which created a massive overhaul in the type of businesses attracted to Downtown Statesville.
“A vibrant downtown is critical in attracting new business to the community,” said Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Bradley. “People want to live and work in a community where there is a sense of vibrancy.”
And it is this vibrancy, according to Downtown Statesville Development Corporation Executive Director Marin Tomlin, that was created from the city’s investment in the streetscape and will continue to be a tremendous asset to help attract interest in Statesville.
“We have a very unique, cool downtown with one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques, amazing local restaurants, great entertainment and events, great history and historic properties, arts and culture all surrounded by this amazing streetscape that provides a beautiful outdoor environment and gathering space for visitors and residents to enjoy,” said Tomlin. “Downtown is the heart of our community and we believe it will continue to grow and thrive, even as change happens.”
Tomlin describes downtown as “a longstanding, successful business incubator environment.”
Mayor Costi Kutteh agrees downtown is critical to the success of the community. The streetscape was an important investment in the city as a whole.
“Downtown is so much more than a business hub -- it is the governmental and financial services center, as well as the heartbeat of our city,” Kutteh said. “There will always be ebbs and flows in all areas of business, but our trajectory is upward – in a huge way.”
Statesville Free News has compiled all downtown business changes from the past year into one list:
Broad Street Burger Co.
In early 2017, the sister of downtown restaurant, Twisted Oak, opened at 111 E. Broad Street, offering signature burgers, wings, and N.C. craft beer.
Bleached A Salon
The new salon, located at 111 East Water St., opened in August. Bleached A Salon is well known for its offering of unique styles, such as the recently popular “unicorn” hair colors.
Pelican's Sno Balls
The popular snow cone shop opened a location in Statesville, located at 232 North Center St., in early August of this year.
P.J.’s Clothing and Accessories
In August, the boutique, located at 105 S. Center St., announced its closure after moving downtown in the summer of 2016 from its original US 21 Lowes Shopping Center location.
Opening in the summer of 2017, this café revitalized its historic presence with flavors from Charleston, where the owners are from. The café is located at 110 Court St.
Broad Street Bistro
Also opening this past summer, this bistro, located at 216 W. Broad St., offers fresh sandwiches, soups and smoothies.
First Flight Bicycles
After its original owner, Jeff Archer’s unexpected death in the summer of 2016, many citizens worried for the staple downtown bike shop’s future after its closure was initially announced in September of this year. But with an unexpected twist, the store was purchased, therefore creating a continuation of the business, located at 216 S. Center St.
El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant
The restaurant closed down after three years at its West Broad Street location, in September of this year.
D’s Nuts Doughnut Shop
The restaurant, after opening in August 2016, at 209 W. Front Street, closed in September of this year.
After being located in the staple Plyler’s building downtown, located at 101 W. Broad St., for three years, the boutique closed its physical location in September to pursue online sales only. GG's Art Frames Gifts will be moving into that space in 2018.
Another full-service bike shop, located at 110 N. Center St., opened in early November of this year. The shop will serve as a source for Trek cycling enthusiasts in the area.
Earlier this year, Yoga Loft announced its move to a larger space located at 109 W. Broad Street. The move was officially made in early November, marked with an official ribbon cutting. This will make the third location for the business, which has been in Statesville since 2014.
An advertising agency, located at 132 Court St., opened its doors this fall.
New South Gallery
The art gallery announced closed its doors in 2016 but continues its Open Mic Nights at the Iredell Art Council, located at the Old Jail, 203 S Meeting St.
The “old” New South Gallery building, located at 224 N. Center St., has been taken over by Theatre Statesville, and is now used as a rehearsal and storage space.
The Reserves Network
The staffing provider business, located at 120 E. Broad Street, opened in November of this year. The agency provides staffing options for the office, industrial, professional and technical markets.
Uncle C’s BBQ
After five years downtown, the restaurant, located at 116 W. Broad St., permanently closed its doors in early December.
Sweet Things Bakery
The bakery announced its expansion from its current location at 112 N. Center St. to the first floor of the old Henderson Building located at 125 W. Broad St. That transition should occur around March of 2018.
“As we all know, change happens,” said Tomlin. “Situations change, business owners’ lives change and with that, we see businesses change or transition and sometimes this change impacts downtown.”
But Tomlin explained that these additions and transitions represent Downtown Statesville as a thriving business environment. Additionally, a unique downtown business atmosphere is created when decades-old businesses are located beside that of a new start-up. This diversity is appealing to both consumers and potential investors.
“Now our focus is to encourage and ignite private sector interest in investing and redeveloping downtown properties,” said Tomlin.
DSDC is working with property owners, such as LeRoy Plyler, whose downtown building, located at 101 W. Broad Street, now stands empty, and is considered a prime downtown location. Plans to fill the location are close to fruition.
“(We want) to help them promote the availability of the spaces, in addition to discussing improvements to some buildings that will make them more attractive to potential tenants.”
Available leasable space allows Downtown Statesville the opportunity to attract new businesses. Approximately six downtown core retail spaces are currently available, including the Plyler building.
Another focus of the DSDC will be the encouragement of more downtown residential development.
Tomlin explains that adding more upper-floor residential space in the core of downtown is a must. These residential spaces will also increase market demand and will create a 24/7 customer base.
“Focusing on the residential growth is building dynamics that will support our downtown for the long term,” said Tomlin. “The impact of someone living in an upper-floor apartment has an immediate impact on the downtown economy if the goods and services are available. The target renter/buyer is everyone from college age to retirees.”
And it is this blend of public and private investment, according to Bradley, that is needed to maximize the economic impact of Downtown Statesville.
Tomlin said the goal of the DSDC is to see all downtown buildings rehabilitated with attractive retail and commercial spaces on the first floor and renovated upper floors with residential or office space. This goal also incorporates the renovation of the Vance Hotel into residential downtown living space.
“We would have experiences and attractions that would make us a destination city,” said Tomlin.
With the continued growth of Downtown Statesville, Tomlin envisions additional development beyond the downtown core. Growth would also open space amenities and strengthen pedestrian links to surrounding neighborhoods.
Tomlin also supports the implementation of the NC 115 Streetscape/Land Use Master Plan in the Shelton Avenue corridor in order to promote and continue this future growth.
“The City has done an outstanding job to this point,” said Bradley. “As a result, we expect a great deal of downtown private investment in 2018. The existing inquiries and expected announcements suggest that we are absolutely on the right track.”