Local News

Business Owners In Fayetteville Claim Progress Moving Too Slow

Posted January 24, 2002 5:45 a.m. EST

— From Raleigh's Fayetteville Street Mall to the Liggett and American Tobacco Buildings in Durham, cities are trying to find ways to bring people back into downtown. Fayetteville has its own plan, but so far, it is getting mixed reviews.

Tim Ryan opened up a Birkenstock store on Hay Street in Fayetteville. But less than a year after opening its doors, he is moving his shoe store to his outfitters business closer to the mall. He said downtown development is moving just a little too slow.

"It's going to happen, but I don't have the financial wherewithal to sit and wait and maintain a trickling business," he said.

In the past several years, the city has invested a lot in downtown. Parts of Hay Street have a new look, which is what convinced Jennifer Sorensen to open up a Bath and Body shop.

"We really enjoy the downtown. It's rich in history and it's rich in beauty, and this is where we wanted to be," she said.

Other businesses have opened or are in the works, but two different projects to turn old buildings into condominiums are temporarily on hold.

Cynthia Wilson, president of the new Downtown Development Corporation that replaced the now-defunct Fayetteville Partnership, said that retention, recruiting and marketing are the group's three focuses, but she said any revitilization project will not happen overnight.

"It actually takes a number of years for a downtown to go into disrepair, and it takes a similar amount of time to build back up," she said.

The Economic Development Corporation thinks the downtown niche may be businesses for the younger crowd. Next month, it will hold public hearings to hear from citizens on how they would like to see downtown progress. Then, a team of architects will go to work and come up with an updated proposal.