FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — When Hay Street on Fayetteville was in its heyday, the main three blocks had almost no vacancies. Then, things slowed down. As of 2002, half of the businesses were empty, but now the historic part of town is on the rebound back up to a roughly 85-percent occupancy rate.
Downtown Fayetteville has a lot of history and appeal, but it also has a lot of vacancies and "for sale" signs. Some local businesses are hoping to change that. Jimmie Wood and two friends are turning a downtown building into an Italian restaurant.
"I think everybody's doing their part in downtown Fayetteville just to revitalize and bring it back to where it needs to be, where it was," he said.
The entrepreneurs are not alone. Twenty new businesses rented space in the downtown area in the past year -- seven in the past month alone.
"I'll say about a month ago when I was driving downtown, I thought for the first time, 'God, it's really busy down here,'" downtown visitor Javen Stein said.
Crews are working on the transportation museum and Festival Park. Even the museum of art is talking about moving downtown.
"I go to historic Wilmington and I think they're incredibly lucky to have what they have down there. For us to have the same thing, we can all create that," Wood said.
The Cumberland County Business Council said more plans are in the works, but it cannot discuss the details until those deals are finalized.