Numerous Holly Springs interests are looking to kick-start investment downtown, but no one knows the solution that will have businesses flooding to find their new homes along Main Street.
But the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce hopes that a purchase it made downtown this year will help guide one of the town’s top priorities in the right direction.
The organization bought property along Main Street near the Holly Springs Town Hall, where chamber representatives plan to build a new location in the next two or three years.
“I think that signals to everyone that not only is the chamber here for a long time ... But downtown Holly Springs is a viable destination,” Executive Director Scott Manning said about the purchase. “I’m not saying our land is by any means the tipping point, but if we’re able to play a role in moving downtown forward, we are happy to do that.”
This new building will be used to draw people downtown every step of the way.
Chamber representatives already are planning events on the vacant lot, such as outdoor movie nights or a place for the Farmers Market to expand its vendors, in order to use the property now.
“Even without a building, we are starting to create a sense of place and drawing people to downtown Holly Springs,” Manning said.
Once completed, the Chamber of Commerce’s building will continue to be a community space. Manning said it wouldn’t just be used by the chamber and its members but also could be used for additional community meetings, events and more.
The chamber anticipates its new building will costs between $800,000 and $1 million, said Moss Withers, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors. The chamber is working to raise that money through a capital campaign and fundraising.
In the meantime, the Town of Holly Springs has continued to encourage growth downtown by offering the Downtown Development Investment program, a grant program that allows developers to request money and fee waivers to help offset some of the expenses for public infrastructure, including sidewalks and lighting, for downtown developments.
Town officials and staff also are working to refine their vision for more commercial development and a pedestrian-friendly, denser residential core in the next year when they update the town’s village district area plan. Officials have said they hope this update, in conjunction with other town rule changes, will encourage more developer interest.
Several other ideas have been discussed in the past, including the possibly of the town building a structure along Main Street that can be used as staff office space but also rented out as retail space. The town also could lease space built by a developer to provide more financial security to the project.
Whatever the town decides to do, the Chamber of Commerce intends to be involved.
“Everyone from the town to the chamber to the nonprofits to the private businesses, large and small, everyone is working toward the same goal,” Manning said. “Downtown Holly Springs is and will be a focal point for the town.”
In other business, the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce also has:
▪ Created a sports and leisure task force to support events already happening in town and encourage new ones to locate to Holly Springs.
▪ Started the process of trying to bring a large annual athletic tournament to Holly Springs. It is expected to have an economic impact of $600,000 to $800,000.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon