Down East Seniors talk downtown development

Published 3:02 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

The Down East Seniors Club held its Aug. 16 meeting at the Blind Center of North Carolina in Washington. President Stewart Rumley led the meeting. Chip Ide led the singing of “God Bless America,” and Charles Smith gave the invocation. Ed Hamrick read factoids for the date in history, and Dick Paul provided humor.

Smith introduced John Butler, director of Washington Harbor District Alliance. WHDA works to improve downtown including the building facades, increase downtown business and enhance tourism. They want to make the city a destination and not just a place to pass through. The facades of the downtown buildings face not just Main Street but also Second Street and the river. WHDA is leading the effort to locate the Harbor District Market (an indoor farmers’ market) in the old McLellan building. This market will operate year-round, not just during the warm months as the current outdoor market does. WHDA plans to work on a streetscape plan to improve the appearance of the downtown street area. Some changes in downtown businesses/buildings include Little Shoppes moving to the building vacated by The Blue Crab, the old Little Shoppes building possibly becoming a hotel, the vacant Bank of Washington building possibly becoming a restaurant, and the Louise Hotel and Belk Tyler buildings being purchased. WHDA will also do a study of available parking downtown and talk with its counterparts in other eastern North Carolina towns to learn what works for them.

Ed Hamrick won the 50/50 drawing.