Uptown Clinton, ideas need a boost from money
URBAN LIVING & RETAIL: Where ideas meet money: Uptown Clinton has 5 projects - done, in the works, or waiting - to enhance retail and living in core area
Keeping Clinton’s central business core strong is an on-going effort, one in which there are more ideas than money right now.
City Council members saw renovation projects that are done, in the works, and yet to be started as they walked the uptown business area on Thursday. Five stops were on their itinerary - 103 E. Pitts St., 101 and 103 E. Main St., 202 W. Main St., and the DE Tribble Complex on Gary Street.
In between all these stops, small gardens have been planted, potted flowers have small “sponsored by” signs, and alleyways are ready for transformation into “street fair” locations.
“We’re just looking for the money,” said Jerre Threatt, the city’s director of community development. Last Wednesday, Main Street Clinton held its first business ribbon-cutting, for the Main Street Bake Shoppe, and the city has averaged a new business opening each month for the past year. TNB Financial Services, at 103 E. Pitts St., is a private development that transformed a former photo studio into a business and investments center.
The 100-year-old building has a reception area, conference room, offices and restroom in space reconfigured so existing HVAC could be used. AT&T found behind the building one of its very first poles, carrying telephone but erected originally for telegraph.
At 103 E. Main St., the city envisions a $1.1 million make-over in a building that, just like the Pitts St. location, has front-jutting window areas designed to display clothes and jewelry. This building has a front-facing second story that will become an apartment, and a new second story area will be constructed for two new apartments, with retail space on the ground floor.
Apartments will be accessed through a rear staircase, another use for an existing alleyway.
Builders have spent a year at 101 E. Main St., transforming a former bank. They left the vault, so any business that rents the main, front-facing space will have this extra security. A firefighting mechanism for uptown Clinton is tucked into one corner of this retail space. Two smaller, start-up business retail spaces are on first floor, rear.
Upstairs, people are on a waiting list for apartments. The back, one-bedroom unit has a view of the MS Bailey Municipal Building; the front three-bedroom unit, to rent for $1,400-a-month, has a vista of the railroad track that divides North and South Broad Street, the direct center of Clinton’s main business district.
The apartments have intercoms, so tenants can speak to people at street level before allowing them access. A first floor area is envisioned for secure, bicycle storage. A commercial real estate agency is handling rentals for this business-residential combo property.
Two blocks away, on West Main Street, the city has acquired the Designers Alley building, and is looking to stabilize it from further decay.
Wood paneling and along-the-walls shelving likely will be ripped out, and a large, broken front display window will come out. The building used to have a middle-placement front door, and that likely will be restored.
Threatt said a lot of people have expressed interest in this building, so the city has moved slowly with renovations. It must move forward with roof renovations and tearing out the dropped ceiling, he said, to prevent more damage to the interior.
“This is the easiest project to turn around quickly,” Threatt said. “We will get this building ready to show.”
Newberry and Sumter have events buildings in their central core, Threatt said, and this is a possible use for Designers Alley, as well. The building is on Clinton’s Main Street, easily “findable” and within walking distance of The Depot, where Clinton stages many concerts and festivals.
Designers Alley dates to 1881, with its “new” portion built in 1930. Reports are that bricks for this building, and others uptown, were crafted at the Thornwell Orphanage.
Finally, the most massive of the city’s envisioned reclamations is the DE Tribble Building on Gary Street. It has been mentioned as a possible relocation spot for the Clinton - Laurens County Public Library, if a retail tenant isn’t interested.
It is a three-building complex, and because of varying degrees of roof damage, some parts are more heavily damaged than others. New roofs have been installed, and a contractor now is working on the interior.
(For more information on public-private partnerships, and historic and renovation tax credits, contact Jerre Threatt, director of community development, at 864-833-7508.)