How property owners and locals can revitalize

Published 12:17 am Monday, September 12, 2016

Finishing up this week with the topic of working together. You have been so patient to allow me to take a couple of weeks to identify who the key players are in any downtown revitalization efforts, as there are many who play a pivotal role in this attempt.

Thus far, we have discussed four: retailers, consumers, media and local government. There are plenty more, but today, let us conclude this topic with two: property owners and local citizens.

Any attempt at revitalization of the central business district has to include groups that have different interests and goals. Ultimately working together, they will share the same common goal: vibrancy and stability, which will bring revitalization to our downtown.

The first is our downtown property owners. Remember: this is my own opinion. Downtown property owners literally own the downtown, so property owners have a direct and vested interest in the growth of any downtown property they may own.

Some will even become directly involved in the expansion of their investments. One of our biggest problems is the buildings owned by absentee owners or those living out of Washington. They may show little or no interest in our revitalization; nonetheless, they should be kept informed of any attempt in restoration efforts. As our future revitalization efforts expand, our program will develop greater competency, and owners should be more involved and invited to participate in future projects. Please, as an owner, do not hold our retailers back from façade improvements they wish to make to draw more customers into their shops or restaurants. Sometimes this is the case, and we, the public, are not privy to that information.

The last group that, to me, is the most important is … us! I use the word “us” because having been born and raised here, this writer is as guilty as anyone! We all take for granted at times what others consider a privilege — to live along the Pamlico. Our merchants need us, and we need them if we are to ever improve our downtown economy. It is easy to sit back and complain, but harder to get up and do something that could be so constructive for the future of our city and our downtown merchants. Why drive to other towns to buy what can be bought right here? How much do out-of-town shops help local schools, churches and civic groups like your very own merchants? Washington offers fine retailers, restaurants and professional groups that are friends to us, and we socialize with them, attend church, go to school and just share their friendship. Why drive to other cities when we can get the same quality and service here with our friends? Yes, there are times you have to go out of town to shop, but at least let us all give our locals merchants the first opportunity. Work together!

In conclusion of this topic, it was not my intention to “step on toes” but I’m just trying to be honest, friends, and my toes hurt too. Let us all try just a little harder to pull and work together. You are the best, and do not forget it!

Until next week, please shop, dine and play in beautiful Washington, N.C. Also, do not forget Pickin’ on the Pamlico with a live band, seafood buffet and free drinks, Sept. 24 at Festival Park. Tickets may be purchased at Bloom Women’s Apparel, Little Shoppes and the Chamber office, or contact me at 252-975- 9728. Please show us your support and purchase a ticket. Until next week … take a walk with the H-Rob.

Harold Robinson is the executive director of the Washington Harbor District Alliance.