Partnership moving downtown forward
SPRUCE PINE – As part of an ongoing effort to support redevelopment efforts downtown, Spruce Pine Main Street Organization in July received its first grant from the town of Spruce Pine for the purchase and renovation of the former McCall’s building on Locust Street.
“The pilot project is just one of many efforts focused on downtown revitalization,” said Libby Phillips, executive director of Spruce Pine Main Street. “SPMS’s Economic Vitality Committee hopes this will be a catalyst for other downtown improvement and will further support small business development.”
The building, which housed McCall’s Department store, has sat empty for more than a decade. In 2015, investors purchased the building and began a partial renovation. As the investor partnership dissolved, so did the renovation efforts, but interest in the building did not wane. After touring several vacant buildings in town, it was determined the McCall’s building would be the best investment with the quickest turnaround. When Phillips approached the town council with a renovation budget and requested funding for the project, the town unanimously approved.
Soon after purchasing the building, Phillips was approached by a local investor with interest in leasing the building. With a proven track record of downtown investment, the Economic Vitality Committee was eager to partner with David and Stephanie Whitson, of Gem City LLC, on the McCall’s project. The Whitson’s own the old Hampshire Hosiery Mill on Summit Avenue that closed in 2001. In 2004, they purchased the property and immediately started the renovation. They added a new roof, replaced windows, added parking and restored the building to its original character. Three of the four floors have been completely renovated, and 17 businesses currently occupy the space.
“We’re just happy to be a part of the progress in downtown and bringing life back to the historic McCall’s building,” Stephanie said.
Economic Vitality Committee chair Zan Sistare said the project is a win-win for everyone involved.
“Not only are we able to take an empty building and get it ready to occupy, but to work with a local couple who care about the future of the town is a game-changer,” Sistare said. “We are thankful to the town council for believing in this project and funding the grant. It’s been a great partnership.”
Work has begun, and renovation of the building is expected to be completed within one year.
“We have spent an enormous amount of time on this project the past two years, and we are eager to see the results pay off,” Phillips said. “Progress is a slow-moving train, so having the right players at the table is crucial. Our town leadership, community advocates, and business owners are working together for the future of our town, and it’s really exciting. By investing in our town, we are investing in our future.”
Call Spruce Pine Main Street at 828-765-3008 for more information about starting a business in downtown Spruce Pine or how to get involved in a Main Street project.