MOUNT AIRY, N.C. -- About 160 people poured into the Mount Airy Redevelopment Commission’s meeting Wednesday night to hear about ideas for the future of the old Spencer’s building downtown.
For about eight years, the building has been vacant. When the company left, so did about 2,000 jobs. City leaders hope that if these projects go through, they can get those 2,000 jobs back.
“There’s a lot already happening in redevelopment in Mount Airy, but the Spencer’s property is the high priority right now,” said Mount Airy Interim Mayor Steve Yokeley.
Four developers met with the commission. One developer told them he would run the project himself, while subcontracting to finish it by the deadline.
Three other developers plan to work together on three separate sections of the property. One plans to create a hotel with 65-80 rooms. Another would create up to 120 market-rate apartments, and the third would create a performing arts center with a theatre and possibly some retail space.
The developers told city officials that their plans would strengthen the economy in the downtown area and give a boost to businesses which are already in existence.
“Get people shopping, and buying food, drinking some beer. Just help everybody out,” said Luke Butcher, owner of Granite City Brews. “Get people downtown and keep them downtown, so that they’re not getting in their car and driving to some chain restaurant.”
It is also their hope that the redevelopment will bring new businesses into the area.
“Everything’s going to be pretty smooth and easy for the businesses that are already here, and just kind of inspire and get more people to come and start up a business here,” Butcher said.
The commission plans to review all of the options and decide which would benefit Mount Airy the most in the next few months. The project would need to be completed by 2022 so the developers can get tax credits which will expire at the end of that year.
“We need to work as quickly as we can because the last two years are going to be critical,” Yokeley said. “It’s an amazing opportunity that we can’t waste.”