WestMain Gateway photo
By David Meade
Williamston’s future is looking bright, at least if you see it through a presentation made by a team of professionals last week.
As part of the Envision Williamston Community Plan project, a team of consultants led by Arnett Muldrow and Associates of Greenville conducted a three day charrette which culminated with a presentation Thursday night reflecting what a revitalized Williamston could look like.
The goal of the charrette was to provide Williamston with an ongoing, flexible work plan to guide revitalization and economic development efforts in the town, according to Tee Coker, a Senior Associate with Arnett Muldrow and Associates who facilitated the charrette.
The presentation included recommendation with visual rendering of gateways to welcome residents and visitors, parking lot and building facade upgrades, landscaping and signage, curbing and other areas the town can improve and capitalize on.
The presentation also included market analysis information from a retail and online survey, a visual preference survey and other research done over the last three months.
According to Coker the research “confirms what we expect.”
That is, “There are a number of type stores we have or don’t have, certain specialty retail or restaurants, that you want but don’t have the opportunity and have to go to Anderson or Greenville,” Coker said. “It basically confirms your intuition.”
Coker said residents in the community “prefer the features of a classical small southern town, very clean and traditional.”
According to Coker, in the Williamston retail trade area which includes Williamston, West Pelzer, Pelzer and Belton, there are 43,000 people spending $685 million annually. Only $298 million of that is spent locally.
In the secondary retail trade area, including Piedmont and Pendleton, $62 million is currently coming into the Williamston trade area. Total spending for that trade area is $1.24 billion.
Research shows the area has several key opportunities and could support more home furnishings, appliances and electronics, lawn and garden equipment and a grocery store.
The study assumes that a rumored Walmart may still come to the area and would capitalize on the areas listed above.
However, even if Walmart does locate in the area, there are a number of opportunities Coker said.
Among those are specialty food; beer, wine and liquor; jewelry, sporting goods, full service restaurants and special foodservices.
During their three day charrette, the consulting team met with business and property owners and looked at north side and west side commercial gateways as well as the town’s East Main, Downtown, Park/Recreation and West Main shopping areas.