Elon developing plan to expand downtown

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ELON, N.C. -- The town of Elon is developing a downtown master plan to cater to people who are residents, not just Elon University students.

Alderman Davis Montgomery said the idea of a downtown plan has been on the minds of town officials for years but after a resident survey, they decided they needed to give the town its own identity.

“We had people come in from the community and say, ‘there really isn't or we can't figure out where downtown Elon is,’ so that kind of told us that we're missing something,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery said Elon University was very supportive financially in splitting the $160,000 cost of hiring Kauffman Associates for the plan and in assisting with ideas.

Montgomery said the plan would boost the local economy and help existing business flourish during the summer months.

“We want Elon to be a downtown community all year round, not just in a couple months out of the year. Students absolutely have a need to find something different and something unique in downtown but our community does the same thing. They would love to have some shops and restaurants that are kind, if you want to say, theirs,” Montgomery said.

The eight block downtown area would require rezoning from South Williamson Avenue to Manning Avenue, then north and west from Haggard to Lebanon Avenue.

The master plan features a "Downtown Elon" logo in Hunter green that would beautify the area with signage, benches, street lighting and a center fountain park area that would serve as a location for music festivals.

The plan allows room for expansion that would adjust the zoning to feature 30,000 square feet with a maximum height of four stories.

West End Terrace Owner Harold Hill said the downtown plan would support local businesses to attract more customers.

Hill said the bar is in a transition of its own, renovating to a terrace restaurant experience for a variety of groups rather than just a college bar.

Montgomery said the plan is still in the early stages and does not have a cost estimate, but officials are excited to have a plan to serves all of its residents.

The plan will be presented on March 3rd at Elon's Town Hall meeting and will have to be approved before developing a Downtown Committee.