Restore Old Town Greenwood wants to leave no doubt in the minds of the many motorists who will drive along Main Street and Madison Avenue during the next eight months: downtown is open for business.
In the coming weeks, the restoration of 22 downtown façades will begin. To avoid any confusion as to whether businesses will be open during the months-long clutter of construction, giant banners will hang over Main Street and Madison Avenue near downtown.
The message to visitors is that the work is temporary and downtown businesses are open, Restore Old Town Greenwood member Chuck Landon said.
Restore Old Town Greenwood and city officials are working with building owners to ensure businesses don’t suffer during the façade work. Last year, the city received a lot of complaints because of a downtown sewer project that closed portions of Madison Avenue and Pearl Street around downtown Greenwood.
Several business owners were frustrated with the city because roads were closed during the sewer project, making it difficult for some customers to get to their stores while others just assumed businesses were closed during the work.
Because the scope of the façade project will be right in the middle of downtown around the intersection of Main Street and Madison Avenue, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers wanted to make sure business owners know the city supports them and that people know they’re open, Myers said.
Myers donated $2,000 from his campaign fund to have the signs made.
“Residents and business owners have been afraid people won’t know businesses are open. I don’t want there to be a misunderstanding. I want businesses to know the city supports them and downtown,” Myers said.
The banners will be similar to those that hang throughout the city during events such as the annual Freedom Festival, Landon said. Signs and stickers will be posted on the windows and doors of the businesses, reassuring potential customers that businesses are open, Landon said.
“We are trying to stimulate downtown,” Landon said.
And as people leave downtown, the banners will have a different message on the other side, encouraging visitors to come back and see the finished work, Landon said.
Next week, a final pre-construction meeting will take place between city officials and contractors hired to do the work, said John Shell, project manager for the city of Greenwood. Contractors will unveil their plans and detail how the work will be done following the guidelines the city has in place, Shell said.
Before contractors could begin any work on the $1.4 million project, they had to meet with the city and each building owner to map out a plan to complete the façade restoration without disrupting business, Shell said.
“We have told contractors they must maintain safe pedestrian access for every building that has access from the street,” Shell said.
The work will be done in phases, or sections, during the next eight months. Contractors will work on multiple buildings at once, but only on one side of the street, Shell said.
Construction will require lane closures, but detours around downtown won’t be needed, Shell said. When Madison Avenue or Main Street have a lane in one direction closed, motorists will use the turning lanes to pass through downtown around the construction, Shell said.
For pedestrians, Shell expects construction crews to use scaffolding so that people can walk along the sidewalks and to and from stores safely, he said.
Residents can learn more when Restore Old Town Greenwood hosts its annual cleanup event on April 30. Residents can come for a few hours and lend a hand picking up trash around downtown.
Design renderings of each of the 22 buildings will be on display that day, and the mayor will kick off the project, Landon said.
The start of this project is just the first step of a long-term makeover to downtown Greenwood, Myers said. The city is currently paying a consultant $90,500 for a study to highlight key areas downtown where improvements and upgrades can be made. In the coming years, the city wants more shops and restaurants along wider sidewalks, turning downtown Greenwood into a destination.
“The city’s anticipation level is high,” Myers said. “This is just the first of many steps. There’s a lot of excitement and there’s a lot of hope for downtown.”
What is it: Community Clean up Day
Where: Meet at the Greenwood City Center, 300 S. Madison Ave.
When: 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. April 30
Restore Old Town Greenwood will host its annual Community Clean Up Day. Residents are invited to come join Restore Old Town Greenwood in the effort. Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza will donate food and the Greenwood Fire Department will supply bottled water.
Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers will be present to kick off the restoration of facades on 22 downtown buildings. Design images of the 22 buildings will be on display.
*May 7 is the rain make up date for this event.