When some Garner residents set about the process of rebuilding downtown, none of them expected it to be an overnight process.
And, indeed, it has not been. Garner’s downtown is a nicer, neater and slightlier busier place than it was in those days, but it still hasn’t reached its potential.
At its best, any town’s downtown is a destination where people go to shop, eat and be entertained. Garner joined the Main Street program some five years ago, and to the town’s credit, they’ve maintained that commitment even through challenging ecnomic times.
The town has poured $2.5 million into downtown and private investment has added another $1.5 million. Town officials hope, as we do, that those numbers will soon flip and that concentrated focus on downtown will lead private investors to see the downtown as a good place to put their money. Of course, the town is not finished spending money in downtown either. A $7.8 million project will build a new recreational center in downtown, hoping to capitalize on the success of Garner Baseball and other entertainment venues, which have drawn big crowds to downtown in an on-again, off-again way.
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The key to a successful downtown revitalization in any instance is patience and sticking to a plan. Garner has done that over the past several years and if the town hopes to see downtown fulfill its potential, that commitment must remain in place for some time to come.
Downtown Garner, with it’s unique nature, can become a draw again. Private investors would do well to take a look at the town’s commitment, realize it is serious about reviving the sleepy little area and turning it back into a thriving hub of activity. Business leaders who are already in downtown can also play a big role as they tout their successes in downtown to those who might be considering if downtown Garner is right for them.
But at the end of the day, all those parties – local government, downtown business owners and investors – must commit to the effort for the long-term. Doing so will ensure a wonderful rebirth.