Representatives of the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation, the City of Laurinburg and Thames Construction Company gathered on Main Street this week to announce the commencement of "Phase I" of the revitalization process.
Downtown Laurinburg’s sagging facades will soon be given a facelift courtesy of a local construction firm contracted by the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation to pressure wash, paint and repair more than 50 Main Street buildings.
LDRC Director Jim Willis announced this week that Laurinburg-based Thames Construction came out on top in the bidding process for the work, filing a final bid of about $85,000. That bidding process was initiated last month with a walking tour of downtown during which nearly a dozen area contractors got a first-hand look at the scope of the repairs that are needed.
What they found was shabby, including crumbling store fronts, roofs with trees growing from them and numerous other aesthetic issues that would have to be dealt with.
Thames is expected to begin work some time next week, with Scotland County native Matt Whitley slated to take lead on the project.
“It’s mostly frontage work with some parapet repair,” said Thames Construction owner John Thames.
According to Thames, his company has experience performing “hard bid” work like the kind being done with LDRC, where the project must be completed on time and on budget.
“That’s something that scares some others off,” Thames said.
According to Willis, LDRC officials were happy to see a local firm win the bidding process.
“We were glad John and Matt got it, quite frankly. They’re Laurinburg guys, and besides the winning the contract, they want the work to be done,” Willis said.
The process of getting the owners of all 51 buildings on the same page for the project has had the unintended effect of fostering a sense of community among downtown property owners, added Willis.
Baxter Lee of the LDRC has mainly been responsible for opening the lines of communication between downtown Laurinburg’s stakeholders – a job that Willis said has been challenging because of the headstrong personalities involved.
“This whole process has seen us working toward physical repair but also toward creating better cooperation between those who hold a stake in the development of (downtown Laurinburg),” Willis said.
Joining LDRC, which is funded by a special tax of property owners in the city’s downtown district, in the revitalization effort has been the city of Laurinburg staff.
Willis said that after working together over the past several months, LDRC’s partnership with the city has “never been stronger.”
The next step in revitalizing downtown will be more complicated, cautioned Willis.
“Hopefully once we get past this repair and painting work we can get into the more complex part of revitalization – like what kind of businesses we want to attract,” said Willis, who owns Shirt-Tales and The Downtown Club.
Downtown business owner Jeanette Herlocker said that she expects the completion of “Phase I” repairs to make the recruitment of new businesses to downtown and Main Street a lot easier.
“I’m excited about the prospect of being able to pull some businesses downtown once things look better. I think it will be so much easier to court arts and antiques downtown once the work is done,” Herlocker said.