07/17/12 — Businesses eye downtown

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Businesses eye downtown

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 17, 2012 1:54 PM

The city's investment into Center Street might already be paying dividends as Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. Director Julie Thompson said Friday she has already received five applications for new business incentive grants for entrepreneurs hoping to open businesses on Center Street.

Ms. Thompson said several of those applicants cited the city's Center Street Streetscape project as the reason they decided to move downtown. The city began construction on the 200 north block of Center Street in May.

The project aims to widen sidewalks, to install shade-giving trees and to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly, as well as to entice more businesses to move downtown.

Ms. Thompson said three of the applications for the grants had been reviewed while the DGDC economic restructuring committee would look over the remaining two applications Tuesday.

The business incentive grant, if awarded, gives new businesses downtown a $400 per month stipend to be used for advertising, rent or to offset other costs. The grant kicks in after six months of the business being open and is only awarded to businesses that sign leases for more than two years.

The grant-awarding process is also very selective, since the grants are given only to businesses that fit with the city's plans for the area, giving special consideration to restaurants, coffee shops and specialty stores.

Three of this round of applicants are restaurants, Ms. Thompson said. One is the latest reincarnation of Central Lunch led by Los Fogones owner Carlos Herriera.

The other restaurant applications being considered are for The Laughing Owl, the New American restaurant being opened in the former Murphy's Place location by the owners of Lotus 1899 Bistro, and D's Sports Bar and Grill, which is proposed to go into the vacant storefront left when Redmon's closed. A sign on the front of D's indicates that it will open Friday.

The other two business incentive grant applications came for arts-based businesses. One was from Thistle Bee Quilt Shoppe, which intends to relocate downtown from its Royall Avenue location.

The other application comes from a woman who wants to open up a store selling crafts and furniture. She intends to buy one of the buildings and to live above the store, but is still awaiting information on financing before pursuing the venture outright.