Building upon information gathered and goals set as part of a 2001 downtown revitalization study, town officials and other community leaders began working on a new Downtown Plan in 2007. Consultants from Hill Studio and Arnett Muldrow Associates developed the plan. The plan, which can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here (your browser must allow pop-ups), was based on market analysis data, community design workshops, public input, and input from town council.
Goals for the downtown revitalization plan, completed in April 2008, included creating a cohesive theme throughout the downtown area, creating a distinct and aesthetically pleasing streetscape, creating town features that can be promoted and creating a list of businesses from which to recruit.
The plan focuses on the Town’s Central Business District, along Main Street from the Church of God on the east end to the Powell Valley National Bank on the west end, including the Payless shopping center and the Norton Road intersection, where the Inn at Wise can be found.
Recommendations in the plan include everything from economic development initiatives aimed at restructuring the Town’s economy to proposals for logos, signs and flags to enhance the downtown area, from a façade program designed to give aging storefronts a quick facelift to the construction of an events facility downtown. Alongside physical improvements, volunteers serving on several support committees and town staff work together to try to foster an environment well suited for both business and recreation in the downtown area.
So far, an improved turning radius and Gateway Garden park was completed at the Norton Road intersection in 2009, a façade program was successfully completed in 2010, and the construction of Big Glades Community Square Amphitheater wrapped up in 2011. (Click the highlighted words to see project info and pictures.) A streetscape improvement project, which will widen sidewalks and include other aesthetic and practical improvements aimed at increasing the downtown area’s pedestrian friendliness, is in the works.
The Town has invested an estimated $1.5 million in construction costs alongside more than $1.1 million it received in grant funding for downtown revitalization physical improvement projects.
There’s much still to be done. Community volunteers serving on the Town’s Blue Ribbon, Design, Promotion and Economic Restructuring committees work with Town staff and Town Council constantly to pick new improvement projects, plan regular events, help local businesses and improve the town. If you’re interested in helping with downtown revitalization efforts, contact Town Planner, Laura Mullins at 276/328-6013, ext. 223, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org