KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) Downtown revitalization projects are happening across the country, including here in the east. One city in Lenoir County is seeing the impact.
Kinston has dealt with a lot over the years. But the city keeps bouncing back.
“It’s not just one thing or one people, it’s a community of people feeling a real passion,” said Susan Gallaher, Owner, consignedDESIGNS
She has owned her consignment shop on Queen Street in Kinston since 2013.
“They were offering façade grants to anyone who wanted to come down and kinda renovate an old building so that kinda encouraged me to come down here. I wanted to see it grow,” said Gallaher
consignedDESIGNS is one of many stores that have opened up over the years, bringing new life to downtown Kinston.
“We’ve seen a large increase in the number of consumers coming downtown to Kinston just to see it and then, of course, they come in the stores buy things. I love how it looks,” said Gallaher
Also bringing new life, the Queen Street Streetscape project. This multi-million dollar infrastructure project stretches from the railroad tracks to the Kinston Music Park.
“We just spent 3 Million dollars doing Queen Street. Which also won an American Planning Design Award for Great Places in North Carolina. That’s pretty prestigious,” said Leon Steele, Executive Director, Pride of Kinston
Over the years Kinston has seen its share of hard times. From natural disasters to changes in the economy. But these economic changes aren’t out of the norm. It was a mirror image of what was happening all over America.
“The Economy wasn’t well, we were on the backside of the housing collapse, the housing bubble…So the economy in Eastern North Carolina was indicative of I think where the U.S. was,” said Tony Sears, City Manager, Kinston
In spite of the challenges, the city keeps bouncing back.
“We snap back together because we work together. Understand the power of we is much more powerful than one person can ever be so we must continue to work together for the common good of our city,” said Mayor Don Hardy, Kinston
There is growth in the city.
“We’re on a steady path and I think Kinston will continue to take that steady path,” said Sears
There are things happening in the city, that’s helping.
“I think some of the things the city has done like partnerships with private business. I think we’re going in the right direction where we’re gonna continue to recruit people to come to Kinston,” said Sears
City leaders say the future is bright and that changes will come.
“If we don’t change, we’ll be left behind in technology, people will start leaving, you’re gonna dry up because you’re doing the same old thing we have to take and look at different approaches. As long as we are taking the next steps into the future, we’ll be just fine,” said Hardy
“I am extremely proud of not only the work the city has done but what the community has done. The pride, the passion the community has put forth making Kinston better is unbelievable,” said Sears
Gallaher couldn’t agree more and says it’s the people who push Kinston forward.
“It goes back to the people, We just pull together, We pull Up our bootstraps and get it done,” said Gallaher
Hardy says that he would like to see the downtown area continue to grow and get stronger. Plus see other parts of the city do the same.
Check out these photos from the Downtown area: