City looks into growing

Clinton City Council members discuss development during a recent meeting.

Clinton City leaders are looking into receiving assistance from an advisement group to improve a few properties in the area.

The Development Finance Initiative (DFI) at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s School of Government made a presentation to the council about their services, which may help revamp vacant spots in downtown Clinton.

Christy Raulli, associate director for the organization, discussed the program with council members. The organization partners with governments in the state to attract private investors for projects by providing finance and development expertise. Some of their work involves building reuse, community development and downtown revitalization.

A couple of the mentioned locations included the “burned out” building on Vance Street and the old uniform service building, across from the courthouse annex, on the corner of Elizabeth Street. The third is a two acre area near the corner of Layton and Boney streets.

“Those are the projects that we’re considering at this time,” said City Manager Shawn Purvis. “There’s other ones on our list too.”

During a recent meeting, Mayor Lew Starling indicated that he wanted to make sure the property owners were on board before Purvis and city officials took more action. Purvis made it known that the project is in the conversation stage.

“We’re like 30,000 feet in the air at this point,” Purvis said. “There’s no nitty-gritty details at this point. We want to get everything lined up before we start moving forward with these analyses.”

Purvis said the analyses are going to be great for the project developments.

“It’s going to do things that the city by itself would not be able to do or even some private developers,” Purvis said.

A part of the process will be identifying what would work best for Clinton and sending out requests for proposals to potential builders or developers.

“That’s always the next step,” Purvis said about looking at options and possibly working with DFI. “We all have visions of what we want downtown to be or the city as a whole. The council has been very positive in sharing that with me and the public.”

Purvis continued and mentioned how DFI can take their vision and make it a reality with others who want to be involved.

“That’s always the hard part,” he said. “We all can say ‘I love to see this.’ But how do you make it happen?”

If the city officially worked with DFI, it would cost the city about $43,000. The total cost of the proposal starts at $63,000, but the Local Government Federal Credit Union contributes about $20,000 to DFI, which cuts the cost for the city.

“We’ll also look into other grants to help offset that,” Purvis said about the $43,000. “We know there’s some out there, but we don’t know if the timing would work out for us. But we do have some revenues to put in place to do it.”

For DFI, Purvis expects the whole process to take between six to nine months. He expects to receive a decision from the council in July.

“Hopefully by this time next year, we’ll have a partner lined up and we’ll start to see some things happen or at least have a nice project ready to go.”

He said it’s a great jumping off point, which will help the city establish different projects, which may carry on to different ones. While talking about the benefits, Purvis mentioned DFI’s success in larger cities such as Wilmington and Durham.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Purvis said. “I’m excited about it and the staff is excited about. It’s one of those things where everybody has received an idea about what could happen and the outcomes that are possible.”