Town of Stuart begins downtown revitalization planning
STUART, Va. (WDBJ) - Stuart town officials are involving the community in the new downtown Stuart revitalization plan.
Patrick County received funding from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to develop a revitalization plan for downtown Stuart.
Officials involved in the plan met with community members at the Farmers’ Market Friday morning to begin the most important part of the process.
“We can’t come in here with any preconceived notions about what we feel needs to happen, because we have to learn about the place first. Community input, whether it’s talking to some of the vendors here at the farmers market, or whether it’s going to be some of the workshops that we’re going to be doing throughout this process. It’s probably the most critical data point of this whole planning process,” said Aaron Arnett, Hill Studio consultant.
The plan involves improved architecture, filling vacant store fronts, and potentially bringing back the Star Theatre.
“Being able to bring that back for the citizens of the town of Stuart and Patrick County is something that is important to me,” said Bryce Simmons, Stuart town manager.
Although there are some changes in store, the goal is to maintain downtown Stuart’s small town character.
“Stuart has its own unique identity and we don’t want it to be like any other place. We want to celebrate that unique quality of Stuart,” said David Hill, President of Hill Studio.
“A small town is what it’s all about,” said Arnette. “We want to make sure that what we plan here is true and authentic to what Stuart is, but we can just enhance what it is today. Definitely, communities want to grow. They want to have more businesses and a lot of places want to have more residents, but it’s not about turning Stuart into something that it’s not.”
They say the development of the plan will last about six months between receiving input from the community and business owners.
After that process is complete, the town will apply for grants to begin implementing the plan.
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