Tuesday, May 5, 2020
There may be no greater example of how the power of strategic economic development can change the landscape of a town than to drive down Main Street in the Town of Holly Springs. Known for large shopping centers and a growing business park, Holly Springs was lacking a central destination for residents and a hub for small businesses, but all that has changed thanks to the vision of town leaders a decade ago who decided to build a downtown district from scratch. As part of Economic Development Week, it’s important to recognize why getting the economy back up and bustling in downtown Holly Springs after COVID-19 is a priority for those who have worked so hard to revitalize the village district.
For years, many towns and cities across the United States focused on growth outside their downtown areas and many have come to realize that residents want a central location to live, work and play.
"We listened to feedback from residents and they told us that a strong sense of community is what makes Holly Springs special," said Irena Krstanovic, the town’s Economic Development Director. "They wanted a downtown that could be the heart of the community, a place where people could work, meet for dinner or drinks afterwards and walk to a summer concert. It was our job to make that happen."
The town’s Economic Development team started building strong relationships with developers who saw the investment potential. Holly Springs is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Wake County, with an innovative, educated workforce, who were ready for a vibrant downtown. These partnerships were further strengthened by the town investing almost $10 million in public infrastructure to position the downtown to accommodate this influx of growth and expansion down the road. The town has added parking – bringing a total of 700 spaces, realigned roadways to improve safety, installed safer pedestrian crosswalks to improve walkability and revamped the downtown stormwater project to handle the development. Over the next 20 years, the revitalization of downtown Holly Springs is projected to generate $1 billion in regional economic impact.
The newly opened Town Hall Commons, along with the Block on Main will add roughly 100,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office spaces downtown. You can’t drive down Main Street without hearing construction, even in the midst of a pandemic. When it opens late this fall, the Block on Main will provide residents with new local restaurant and retail options, including an outside amphitheater and a rooftop restaurant. It will also provide needed office space to many small businesses and allow other existing downtown businesses to expand operations. Renovations are also ongoing further north on Main Street, where residents will get a new southern themed restaurant when The Pimento Tea Room opens its doors after the historic building gets a face lift. Historical properties and open parcels of available land are opening up every day downtown and the town is getting inquiries from investors who are just waiting for the economy to turn around.
"Downtown businesses were just starting to open and gain loyal customers when this health pandemic threw a wrench in their plans," said Anna Johnston, Holly Springs Economic Development Project Manager. "Our hearts are heavy, but we know the community will rally behind them. We are working closely with local business owners to make sure they have all the resources they need to get back up and running as quickly as possible."
Learn more about downtown growth in Holly Springs
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