Pickens Revitalization Association looks for more retail downtown
PICKENS, S.C. -
The City of Pickens is hoping to attract a few new retail businesses to Main Street and they're willing to kick in a little cash to help the owner.
The Pickens Revitalization Association has been working closely with city officials and is trying another method of advertising to get business owner's attention. Allison Fowler with the Association said new posters just arrived at their office downtown and she took a minute to tell 7 On Your Side how they are hoping to attract attention.
"We have a set of signs we'd like to put in the empty store fronts so if someone walks by and says that's a great idea but I can't afford it, then the next sign talks about the facade grant," said Fowler.
The first poster describes how Pickens City would like to add more retail shops like restaurants, clothing or unique gifts businesses to street level buildings. Fowler told 7 On Your Side that the Pickens County Courthouse attracts a lot of lawyers and that means there are a lot of law offices downtown.
Doctors offices and state buildings tend to creep in too Fowler said.
"There is nothing wrong with having those businesses downtown but we're just looking for more retail for residents and tourists to shop and hang out downtown," said Fowler.
Fowler said no businesses will be asked to leave but there is a city ordinance she said, that will allow a new business that isn't retail, to move upstairs. Fowler said it's ideal to have offices and apartments on the second story of the buildings and retail shops on the bottom.
The second poster describes how business owners can receive financial help from a facade grant.
The City of Pickens has a facade grant Improvement Committee who lays out the intentions of the grant. The following is a description of the grant from their website.
"The City of Pickens Façade Improvement Grant Program (FIGP) provides financial assistance to commercial property owners and business owners in the City Center and Gateway Overlay Districts that qualify for façade improvements. The purpose of the Façade Improvement Program is to support the revitalization of the City’s Overlay Districts by stimulating private investments in high-quality improvements that enhance the appearance of buildings and properties and eliminate blight and non-conforming design standards,"
Fowler explained that the city will match half of the money a business owner spends on sprucing up outside of their building up to $10,000. That includes some window repairs, signs and other repairs that show the store owner or owners are committed to setting up shop.
Fowler said the city got some help from other Upstate cities too. She explained that the City of Spartanburg spoke with officials in Pickens about the Main Street Challenge and the opportunities it could provide for Main Street in Pickens but Fowler said it sounded like too much for Pickens.
"It's seemed to work in Spartanburg but we thought we needed a project on a smaller scale," said Fowler.
Michael Gould runs a business downtown and moved in just a few months ago. Antiques and Uniques is located next to a florist on Main Street and Gould said he had no trouble finding an open building when he wanted to open up last year.
"I looked around and made friends with the business next door. Now we work events together and I'm able to offer customers a unique gift or item that they couldn't get at a big box shop," said Gould. Gould said many customers choose shopping at large department stores over downtown because they can find more choices there.
He said he hopes that the store, along with his Adventure Photography business encourages customers and other business owners to want to follow in his footsteps.
You can read more about the Pickens Facade Improvement Grant here
You can see more from the Pickens Revitalization Association here