Creative EDC talks about downtown redevelopment a lot. Now, we are walking the walk. We moved into The Liberty, a new redevelopment project in downtown Elkin, Crystal’s home town.
The Liberty Tobacco Warehouse was built in 1917, one of two tobacco warehouses on East Main Street, Elkin. By 1942 the building was being used for cotton and wool storage with horse stalls in the basement (where our office is now). Later, the building was used for wholesale grocery distribution for Cash & Carry Stores, Inc. and then Brendle’s Cash Wholesale, a precursor to the Brendle’s stores for home goods. The building was renovated in 2012 retaining the original pine floors, windows, brickwork, 100′ timber wood trusses and open rafters.
Today, The Liberty houses a gift shop, banquet hall, meeting rooms, and a brick oven pizza restaurant and bar (set to open in July) on the Main Street level. The lower level houses office suites, one of which is home to Creative EDC, and additional space that will be renovated for a brewery and other businesses. We welcome jokes about co-locating our office with a pizza place, bar, and brewery!
Elkin Developer Cicely McCulloch used many tools common to economic developers. Two-thirds of the project is being financed through historic tax credits. The developer is also using Mill Rehabilitation Tax Credits. One-third is financed through a conventional loan. The project used the Building Reuse and Renovation Grant Program through the NC Rural Economic Development Center. The Town of Elkin and Surry County awarded local incentive grants.
The best practices we found in this project are 1) rely on knowledgeable people to help; and 2) use local businesses. The developer is using the NC Rural Center, UNC School of Government, and an attorney specializing in historic tax credits to provide technical expertise. She is also using as many local businesses as possible so the project has a greater local impact – bank, contractor, sub-contractors, architect, etc.
Creative EDC is now a piece of the redevelopment puzzle in our home town. How can your organization not only talk about transformational economic development, but walk the walk and be a part of it?
Update, April 28, 2016: The Liberty redevelopment project continues to spur entrepreneurial growth in historic downtown Elkin. The renovated tobacco warehouse project now houses 222 Public House, Angry Troll Brewery, four office spaces, and two meeting/banquet venues. Check out their website to see what’s new and happening at The Liberty.