Keeping public informed vital in downtown project

Greenwood is in the early stages of a major overhaul of its Old Town area, and it appears city leaders have learned valuable lessons from a similar effort in Franklin.

When 22 buildings in downtown Greenwood have their storefronts restored, city officials want to make sure the construction stays on schedule and that customers know the businesses are open and how to get inside.

Before the work starts, the property owners, contractors and the city will sign contracts that detail deadlines and the work that will be done, which will bring downtown Greenwood back to a look reminiscent of the 1930s and hopefully prompt a surge in development and draw shoppers. The agreements also will detail how the city and contractors will help the businesses remain open during construction that might require portions of a sidewalk around a store entrance to be closed.

Project manager John Shell said, “Every building owner and business is excited because the façade project is a benefit to their look. But there is concern. The city is aware there is going to be concern. And not every day will be smooth. But the city is in the business of helping businesses here in town.”

Franklin had some of the issues the city of Greenwood is trying to avoid when it completed a similar restoration project of eight downtown façades in 2014. The work was finished a year later than the city had initially planned.

The project in Greenwood could take 12 to 18 months once contractors are hired in November. But the city has talked with officials from Franklin to understand how issues arose during the project and how to avoid similar problems.

The project to restore the 22 façades in downtown Greenwood will cost $1.1 million. The building owners who chose to participate will combine to pay for almost $200,000 of the cost, with the city’s redevelopment commission paying for the bulk of the project. The city also received a $400,000 grant from the state.

The city wants to make sure that every owner who invested money in the restoration project has a say in how and when the work will be done. The city will work with contractors to plan which buildings are worked on at certain times depending on when the businesses are the most busy. But the overall goal for the city and the contractors when working on these negotiations is ensuring a safe way to get in and out of a store or restaurant while construction is ongoing.

Officials said they already are working on signs for the surrounding buildings and possible ideas to inform the public businesses will still be open during the work.

Any redevelopment project will be disruptive for business owners and the public. It appears Greenwood officials are taking effective steps in keeping business owners fully informed as it undertakes its Old Town redevelopment project.

At issue

Major development projects can be highly disruptive to local businesses.

Our point

Greenwood is taking the right steps in keeping business owners fully informed as it undertakes its Old Town redevelopment project.