DWSP continues to reimagine the image of downtown
BY TEVIN STINSON
It’s no secret a lot has changed in downtown Winston-Salem over the past decade. Old factories, vacant buildings, and empty storefronts have been replaced by luxury apartments, restaurants, and homegrown businesses.
Since 2000, investments downtown have increased by 21 percent. According to the study conducted by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning and Development Services and presented during the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership (DWSP) Annual Meeting held last week, since that point in time almost $1.5 billion has been spent on the revitalization of the downtown area.
DWSP board chair and president, Jason Theil, said private public partnerships are necessary to keep pace with other cities across the country. He said downtown organizations exist in cities around the country, from cities the size of Mount Airy and smaller to New York City and larger.
“We have partnerships because we know that it takes more than just government. In order to make true progress it requires a combination of civic, municipal, business and culture,” he said. “We have a bright future in Winston-Salem because we take all these factors into consideration when we make decisions.”
During the meeting held inside the Grand Pavilion Ballroom of the Embassy Suites Hotel last Wednesday morning, the partnership also gave those in attendance a glimpse at what is coming next. Theil mentioned in coming months there will be some dynamic changes to several downtown storefronts. He said the changes will be funded by a $135,000 grant that will used to upgrade old buildings in the downtown area.
Theil also highlighted other coming attractions, including the completion of the Central Library Branch, the Business 40 Project, the grand opening of Kaleidium, renovations to the Benton Convention Center and others that you may not have heard of like the Link Apartments, which will transform an old tobacco plant into the largest housing development in the history of downtown.
The city will also welcome its fifth brewery later this year when Fiddlin Fish Brewing Company opens on North Trade Street.
Foothills Brewing, Hoots Roller Bar & Beer Co., Small Batch Beer Co., and Wise Man Brewing have all opened brewers in the area in recent years.
“For a city our size, we are building,” said Theil. “It feels great to be a part of this partnership working to make downtown a better place for everyone.”
Before announcing the recipients of the 2016 Downtown Excellence Award, Mayor Allen Joines said although he is proud of what downtown has become over the years, it is important that we continue to build for future generations. He said the growth of downtown contributes to other areas of the city as well.
“Let’s not get so caught up in our success that we forget to invest in downtown,” said Joines. “I tell people all the time we aren’t putting money into downtown, downtown is actually putting money into the rest of the city. When you look at the services we provide downtown and the taxes that are produced by this concentrated area, it’s more than it is to provide the services.”
“Downtown is a donor to the rest of the community. It is important that we keep that in mind,” Joines said.