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Anderson in early stages of ‘Shock this Block’ development plan

Hospitality and Tourism
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The city of Anderson is in the visioning phase of a downtown development plan that will provide “a clear path and achievable action items” as a catalyst for even more investment and development.

Titled Shock this Block, in homage to the city’s moniker, the Electric City, the plan will serve to create a unified, site-specific development plan for downtown Anderson, according to a news release. The initiative will focus on creative placemaking which is an evolving field of practice that intentionally leverages the power of the arts, culture and creativity to serve a community's interest.

Kimberly Spears, director of economic development for Anderson, told GSA Business Report, “this is a perfect time to invest in a master plan and road map for downtown Anderson.”

“There’s a real exciting vibe going on now. A lot of investors are interested in downtown Anderson, including investors from outside of Anderson,” she said.

The city has chosen Arnett Muldrow Associates of Greenville to work with the administration to lead the process.

“This is designed to be a market-based master plan with a high level of community input and a focus on strategic implementation,” Spears said. “Right now we are negotiating contracts. We are in the early stages, after which we will be able to determine focus areas and projects.”

Spears said the downtown area has been in city master plans in the past, but this time is a more focused, innovative approach. “This is the first time we’ve utilized creative placemaking professional artists,” she said.

This plan will build on the city’s past and current development plans which began in 1996 with a vision plan for downtown that was updated in 2001, a 2007 retail market study and a 2013 business recruitment and redevelopment plan.

Many of the prior recommendations have been implemented including streetscapes, building revitalization, economic development incentives and the addition of greenspaces. The Shock this Block plan will provide guidance to accelerate efforts to develop the downtown core, stimulating economic growth, the release said.

Shock this Block plans include a vision for downtown Anderson as a regional hub and as a preferred destination for shopping, dining and commerce with ample choices for urban residential lodging. The goal is to develop a roadmap to shape Anderson’s downtown business and residential core, aspiring to the best use of specific vacant or underutilized plots for increased economic development activity and livability.

Spears hopes to kick off the Shock this Block plan in early fall.

The Municipal Association of South Carolina awarded the city of Anderson a Hometown Economic Development Grant of $25,000 to serve as the financial foundation for the effort. The funding was awarded through a competitive process due in part to the city’s approach to a phased master plan which includes a strategic branding strategy and leadership from the creative community, the release said.

Hometown Economic Development Grants are intended to support economic development projects that will make a positive impact on a municipality's quality of life. The grant program also promotes and recognizes innovation in economic development practices.

Reach Teresa Cutlip at 864-720-1223.

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