The future of Kingstree was on display during a December 12, meeting at Town Hall. A crowd gathered to hear the results of citizen input, surveys, and months of research that could turn the city into a thriving, picturesque place as well as a welcoming destination for visitors.
Randy Wilson, President, Community Design Solutions, Aaron Arnett and Ben Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, Andy Kalback, President of Kalback Design Studio and Jenny Boulware, Executive Director, Main Street South Carolina presented the concepts.
The list of improvements, renovations and even simple changes will have a huge impact on the way citizens will spend time downtown. However, the vision reaches far beyond the historic district. Number one on Kingstree Town Manager Richard Treme’s wish list is the overhauling of Mill Street Landing. A rendering presented during the meeting showed a flurry of amenities, from an amphitheater to a splash pad and walking trails. “We’re in the process of buying Mill Street Landing. That is very promising,” he said, adding. “We want to develop that as much as we can. There’s so many focuses that we’re going to have but this is certainly one of the main focuses.”
One ambitious improvement is converting Main Street back to two-lane and add details such as information banners and landscaping. The single lanes would open up room for parking and also bump out the sidewalks to accommodate outdoor seating and eating.
Smaller, and financially do-able projects would be to turn empty spaces into gathering places. Two vacant lots on Main Street could be converted into pop-up parks with oversized games such as bowling, checkers and chess and lit from above with string lights for evening events.
The meeting is part of the South Carolina Main Street program. The Town of Kingstree was accepted into the program in January 2018 and is one of the newest partners of the Main Street South Carolina technical assistance program. Since becoming a partner, the town has hosted many events such as The King’s Table, Kingstree Live at the Depot and invested in infrastructure to include refurbishing a municipal parking lot.
The projects are numerous, impactful and will develop over time but will also come with a cost. Treme said nearly half of the funding for the projects could come from the Hospitality tax but there are other avenues they are working on. “There are grants out there through rural infrastructure for streetscapes and those types of things,” he said. “We have checked all that out. All we need to do now is start the projects.” The presentation will be available on YouTube in the next few weeks.