Richlands’ revitalization program is adding new life to downtown

RICHLANDS, N.C. (WNCT)–The Revive Downtown Richlands program has improved three store fronts so far through the help of façade grants, or grants matched by the town up to 50% using the money it’s raised from events.

The grants cap out between $2000 and $3000.

Improvements are made to the faces of the buildings, including updates to glass and siding.

Much of the downtown area is original, with some buildings as old as 90. Through revitalization efforts, the town is hoping to keep it in tact and in line with the original feel.

“Our goal is not to destroy or tear down anything,” Gregg Whitehead, town administrator, said. “It is to preserve it as best as possible. Because you only get one shot at a downtown and one shot of what we have.”

The town’s been a part of the Small Town Main Street Program through the Department of Commerce since 2012.

The program offers $500,000 worth of total funding, which is available on a first come, first serve basis for improvements.

Whitehead says it’s something they’re hoping to take advantage of.

“We don’t want to lose that part of our history and heritage of having a small downtown, and we also want to make sure it can stay economically vibrant,” he said.

Linda Davis is the owner of The Tail Spinner, a yarn shop, in downtown Richlands.

She’s part of three businesses in the downtown area who are taking advantage of façade grants offered through the Revive Downtown Richlands program.

“When I first moved in, there was an old wood facing and it needed to be replaced,” Davis said. “I put in an application and the town worked with us to make that happen.”

There are currently 11 businesses in downtown, which Davis says is part of the draw.

“It’s a peaceful, quiet downtown setting,” she said. “You don’t get that anymore with the hustle and bustle of big towns.”

The town is also using grants to improve streetscaping and lighting.

If you’d like to get involved with the program, it meets the first Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at town hall. Whitehead says he’s hoping to organize a stakeholder’s meeting in the fall.

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