Dozens gathered at the Old Reinhardt Building to learn about the Downtown Development Association’s vision for Lincolnton.
According to the association’s website, The Lovable Lincolnton Possibility Tour consists of seven potential redevelopment projects in the downtown area “designed to reinvigorate interest in the downtown vision developed by the citizens of Lincolnton.”
A large vision board is located at each proposed site, including an architectural rendering of how the site would appear if redeveloped. The projects involve either the renovation of an existing historic building or new construction on an empty infill site.
The seven sites include a multiplex movie theater, a bed and breakfast inn, The Catawba Valley Pottery Center, the Depot Incubator Kitchen, B. Lincoln Esq. Local Foods Restaurant, The Willowbrook and Lincolnton Lofts/Restaurant row.
According to Brad Guth, Downtown Development Association Director, the multiplex movie theater would be located on the site of the Citizens Center’s parking lot. Guth hopes to see a 10-screen theater similar to the one constructed a few years ago in downtown Morganton.
“We need to draw people into Lincolnton at night,” Guth said. “Our lack of nightlife is a problem now.”
In addition to serving as a cinema, the building would also function as a meeting facility for public and private clients during daytime hours. On the upper floors, breakout rooms would be constructed to host conference sessions and presentations. A new food service facility would complement the meeting space.
Critics of the proposal have raised concerns over whether the allotted space is sufficient for such a facility. Guth has reassured that the “space is fine,” stating that Morganton’s downtown movie theater sits on a property smaller than Lincolnton’s proposed site. As for parking, new parking areas would be constructed on the Water Street block, between Government and High Streets, for those visiting the Citizens Center and the multiplex theater.
A bed and breakfast inn is envisioned to nestle among the homes in the South Aspen Historic District. According to Guth, the building formerly housed the Old Crowell Hospital. A short walk from Main Street, the inn would be convenient for travelers on business trips, tourists and visiting relatives.
The Downtown Development Association hopes to renovate the former Eureka Manufacturing Mill building into the Catawba Valley Pottery Center. The facility would house classroom and studio space available for apprentice potters and technique classes with instructors well versed in the Catawba Valley Tradition.
“We want people to have the opportunity to learn about this pottery tradition and buy contemporary pottery,” Guth said.
As for the former train depot near East Main Street, the association envisions a shared-use commercial kitchen that would allow early-stage food service businesses a facility in which to operate.
Guth explains that for many new food service businesses, the investment of constructing a commercial kitchen that meets food safety regulations is often financially unattainable. By constructing The Depot Kitchen Incubator, these businesses could rent out timeslots in which to use the Depot’s kitchen and equipment, thus eliminating the initial expense for the entrepreneur and allowing the business to grow until it is able to fund its own facilities.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Lincolnton Recreation Department Youth Center offers more than a century’s worth of history to the city’s residents. Prior to its establishment as a recreation center in 1947, the building served as an elementary school. According to their website, the association believes the site could be renovated into a local restaurant, exclusively offering seasonal, family farmed and locally produced vegetables, meats and wines.
According to Guth, the restaurant would be named B. Lincoln Esq. Restaurateur, taking its name from Revolutionary General Benjamin Lincoln.
Formerly a textile mill, the Willowbrook building is the largest building in downtown Lincolnton. With 140,000 square feet, the association hopes to renovate the structure into a facility offering residential living, office and retail spaces. Guth believes the building’s proximity to schools, churches and restaurants makes it an ideal location for tenants of all ages.
The Lincoln Lofts is one of the site proposals that would be constructed as an infill building, thus allowing many contemporary features for residents. The association envisions the main floor would be used for restaurants, offices and retail shops, with the upper floors exclusively for residential housing.
At this time, no completion dates have been proposed for the projects. Those interested in learning more about the Downtown Development Association’s vision for Lincolnton should visit www.possibilitytour.org.