Darlington’s Downtown Streetscape Project now moves to design phase

Darlington City Manager John Payne, far right, discusses the specifics regarding the downtown streetscape project with Hanna Engineering staff prior to the contract signing. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

On May 11, Darlington City Manager John Payne signed the final contract with Hanna Engineering to begin the design phase of the city’s Downtown Streetscape Project.
The City of Darlington was awarded the $750,000 Community Development Block Grant for the project in November.
Darlington County Council approved providing the $75,000 required match, and those funds will go towards the Carnegie Library parking lot and façade elements on the buildings that will be much more prominent as they face the new courthouse.
The environmental and regulatory requirements will be complete this month, and the project moves forward to the design phase.
“This is a great day for Darlington with the city and county coming together with private business to enhance our town’s center in so many ways,” said Mayor Curtis Boyd. “Together, we are making big things happen for our small town.”
The areas to be enhanced include the Public Square, the Public Walkway, the South Main Street parking lot, the Ward Street parking lot, the Carnegie Library parking lot, Hewitt Street, Orange Street, Russell Street, City Lane, and Cashua Street.
The improvements to Hewitt Street Alley will create a pleasant and viable connection between the Public Square and the City Lane parking lot as well as a causeway to the County’s new courthouse and new museum.
“A downtown streetscape project is a natural extension of all the growth and investment in downtown from the County Museum, Genesis Healthcare, and the County Courthouse,” said Lisa Bailey, director of economic development and planning for the City and executive director for the Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association. “The improvements will also attract new businesses to vacant properties in the area and new customers to existing businesses.”
The Downtown Streetscape project will include:
— Creating a public gathering space on Hewitt Alley.
— Repaving and reconfiguring three downtown parking lots.
— Adding sidewalks.
— Creating a trailhead at City Lane.
— Installing amenities such as benches, landscaping, bicycle racks, trash receptacles, and trees.
— Increasing the number of security cameras and lighting for public safety purposes.
The added pavement on parking lots, seating, landscaping, sidewalks, and public gathering spaces highlights the commercial activity downtown and create spaces where people want to visit and do business and encourages growth in the town’s center.
All work is scheduled to be complete by November 2023.
The first major restoration of downtown streetscape occurred in the 1990s when the city worked with the DDRA to get the parking lots paved and the utilities put underground.
In 2005-09, the city had a large scale public-private partnership project that saved 25 percent of the historic downtown from condemnation and created retail spaces and apartments. In 2015-16, the city developed a beautification plan for downtown to update signage and landscaping, which will be referenced for design elements in all aspects of this project.

Author: Stephan Drew

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