The renovation of a wall may not sound like the most glamorous project, but a business owner improving the outside of his building was able to receive assistance from several groups in the community while laying the groundwork for the next big art venture in downtown Clinton.
This week, Cary B. Taylor III was presented a $1,000 check as part of a Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce program, a reimbursement for improvements made to his Powell’s Insurance property at 110 Lisbon St., Clinton. Earlier this year, he also received $4,190 in facade improvement grant funds from the City of Clinton, as well as $1,500 by way of the Downtown Dash Committee, whose annual run generated tens of thousands in downtown beautification funds over the years.
“Those three checks were definitely a big help,” said Taylor.
The wall project included the removal of old stucco, addition of new stucco, removal of old terracotta cap from the outside wall and the addition of metal cap flashing as replacement. Three older windows were also replaced on the same wall. The project was completed in June by HN Carr Inc. of Clinton. The cost was in excess of $10,000, estimated somewhere in the $12,000 range.
Last fall, when Taylor began planning the project, Clinton Planning Director and Main Street Program manager Mary M. Rose informed him of some of the beautification efforts undertaken by the Main Street Program. It was mentioned that Powell’s old stucco wall could be washed off and repainted, but Taylor knew the deteriorating surface would need a bigger fix.
Then, Rose approached him about an alleyway project that would extend down the alley off Lisbon Street, between Powell’s Insurance and the rear side of Dr. Max Raynor’s Professional Eye Care business. Taylor, Raynor and others were on board.
Taylor’s project began in earnest this spring. Around the same time, requests for proposals for an artist to bring life to the alleyway project went out. Raynor’s building, which will serve as the canvas for five separate murals, was given a paint touch-up.
Ultimately, Clinton native Sarah Rushing, now of Wilmington, was commissioned to do five pieces representing the vibrant history of commerce in the heart of Clinton. Those pieces will be installed on the outside of Raynor’s building, facing the newly-renovated Powell’s building, Rose noted.
“We think it will play well with the opposing wall,” Rose remarked.
The five colorful murals will depict the old Rufus King Hotel, which was located in the area of the parking lot behind Annadale’s; the old Clinton Theater, which was located across from the “Milling Around” art piece at the peak of College Street; the Bank of Sampson, which sat downtown in the area of Raynor’s business; and Butler’s Pharmacy.
The Rufus King mural has been completed. Ideas for a fifth mural are still being mulled by the Main Street Program’s Design Committee.
The committee has coordinated the alleyway project in partnership with the Downtown Dash, which donated $10,000 to the city as part of its final event. Over the years, Downtown Dash funded various upgrades in and around the downtown, fulfilling its mission — this project will serve as its swan song. In addition to the $1,500 check to Taylor, other funds were used to commission Rushing. There will also be a bench and lighting installed in the alleyway, as well as flowers planted and a trash can purchased.
“We’re leveraging these funds for this really great community project,” said Rose. “That’s part of the reason why it’s so great that Cary made a private investment that will make it look so much better.”
Rose said that has been the aim of the City of Clinton, as well as the Main Street Program and the Downtown Dash: Improve the downtown through diverse beautification efforts. She pointed to the Downtown Recycle Art Walk along Ferrell Street as another example.
“Our goal is to improve our public spaces downtown,” Rose stated.
The alleyway is just the latest canvas. Rose is expecting to be able to unveil the alleyway project — and officially recognize a project that has been supported by so many — by the end of this year.
“We’re still working through it,” she said.
Allison Strickland, executive director for the Chamber, said grants through the Matching Grant Program are offered to two Chamber members a year, with a maximum limit of $1,000 per grant. Grants are given on a 50/50 matching reimbursement basis and recipients may only collect a grant once every two years.
Members can use grants in two different ways — outside improvements and capital equipment.
Outside improvements can include renovated storefronts, signage, paint, siding, roofing, awnings and windows, among other projects, while capital equipment encompasses “the purchase of equipment that will increase their customer base and target markets,” Strickland noted.
“The goal is that the addition of equipment will expand their business, in turn creating jobs,” said Strickland. Similarly, the outside improvement aspect is designed to make businesses more attractive and, thus, more lucrative.
“We encourage all Chamber members who may have a need for financial support in these areas of their business to apply for the matching grant,” Strickland stated. “We would love to see more Chamber members take advantage of this resource.”
Many have taken advantage of the City of Clinton’s Facade Improvement Program through the years, said Rose.
While not promoted heavily, the grants have been used to provide a facelift, including new signage, awnings and paint, as well as revamped storefronts, to many businesses in and around the downtown.