Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Lot Kicks Off Downtown Revitalization

Residents and visitors now have a safer, more attractive place to park in downtown Sanford, and it could pay off big for local businesses.

Thanks to a public-private partnership between the City of Sanford, Downtown Sanford Inc, and Progressive Contracting Company, the land between McIver Street and Charlotte Avenue located behind Chatham Street has been renovated for use as a public parking area.

The first step in preparing the 70,000 sq ft space was to clear and grade the land that previously hosted the Lee County Rescue Squad. The City also had to work with Progressive Contracting to convert the existing private parking spaces to public ones.

More Parking, More Business

Now called the Chatham Street Parking Lot, the updated space features 96 public parking spaces, period lighting, a clean view of the Little Buffalo Creek, and public art.

“The Chatham Street Parking Lot will make it easier for business owners, employees, customers, and visitors to park near Chatham Street, Charlotte Avenue, and McIver Street,” explains David Montgomery, executive director of Downtown Sanford, Inc. “The lot will also serve as primary overflow parking for downtown events or as a venue itself,” he says.

Planning For The Future

The lot’s renovation matches the streetscape work completed on Chatham Street, which includes brick-lined sidewalks, partial underground utilities, and period lighting for both pedestrian and street lamps. The voter-approved Streetscape and Pedestrian Improvement bonds will fund streetscaping throughout the downtown area.

“The City’s investment in Chatham Street has already increased property values,” points out City Manager Hal Hegwer. “Property values along Chatham Street averaged $200,000 in 2002 but are $1.75 million now. We expect the new parking lot to bring the same results. And with a safer, free place to park, we anticipate more foot traffic for all of our downtown businesses,” he says.

“This parking lot is a great example of what can be accomplished when diverse groups work together toward a common goal,” notes Paul Weeks, City Engineer. The city hopes the parking lot project will set the tone for future public-private partnerships during the streetscaping process.

Creating A Public Space

The lot’s renovation wasn’t limited to paving and utilities, says Bob Bridwell, director of community development and planning for the City. “We took the opportunity to clean up Little Buffalo Creek,” which runs parallel to the renovated lot. Workers removed trash and debris from the creek and trimmed the creek’s foliage.

The Chatham Street Parking Lot is also home to an Art-Force, Inc public art installation. Created by North Carolina artists and local specialty metals engineering firm WST Industries, the zero-waste six-panel art display was installed in mid-August.

More Information

The public is invited to view the Chatham Street Parking Lot and participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 4:15pm. Light refreshments will be provided.

For questions about the new lot or ribbon cutting, contact David Montgomery at 919-775-8332 or

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