Orange barrels choked off a lane of traffic near the railroad tracks in downtown Laurinburg Tuesday as work continued on the revamping of downtown facades.
Organized and funded by the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation, the work is part of an effort to repair and enhance the appearance of downtown.
Announced last month, the work is being done by the locally-based Thames Construction Company.
According to owner John Thames, most of the work is restricted to frontage “with some parapet repair.”
“We (have) set up traffic barrels, and if we have to we can scaffold the sidewalk,” Thames said.
Asked if similar work has been done else where recently, LDRC Director Jim Willis said that similar projects have recently been successfully completed in Maxton, Bennettsville, S.C. and Cheraw, S.C.
“Those have been the models that we are holding up,” Willis said.
Thanks to a shift in their way of approaching downtown revitalization, Willis said that he believes the city is on the verge of drastically changing downtown for the better.
“With our prior model, we would have a little money, and we would wait for a property owner to decide to invest in repairs, then we would help them out. Now we are saying to them ‘You don’t have to contribute anything. You just need to give your permission.’
“That is a fundamental change in approach.”
That change in approach has led to the LDRC getting as far along in the downtown repair project as anyone ever has, said City Planning Director Brandi Deese.
“In prior years they didn’t get anywhere close to this,” said Deese of similar projects initiated in the past.
Willis believes a joint effort involving the city of Laurinburg, the LDRC and others in the community is key to continued success beyond 2013.
“We are excited about our partnership with the city. It has never been stronger. And we are creating more of a sense of community (in downtown Laurinburg),” Willis said.
Working partly from a report commissioned several decades ago suggesting what should be done to restore downtown, the LDRC has a core goal with the current project.
“The bottom line from that report was that it needs to look better. The hope is that this public investment will lead to private investment in the future.”
Work downtown is expected to continue into the spring as the Thames Construction Company works its way up from the end of Main Street nearest the railroad tracks.
LDRC is funded by a special addition to the taxes of property owners in the downtown district of Laurinburg.