07/25/14 — Wish upon a storefront

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Wish upon a storefront

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on July 25, 2014 1:46 PM

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Just a few doors down from the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp., passers-by can leave a note as to what business they would like to see occupy the vacant building at 205 N. John St. The project is an experiment by the DGDC to drum up interest in downtown for property owners and patrons.

The Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. is taking on two new projects -- one asking people to tell them what they would like to see downtown and another to make sure they know what is already there.

There is a poster on the window of an empty storefront at 205 N. John St., a few doors down from the DGDC office. On it are tags with an invitation to passers-by to fill in their answer to the statement, "I wish this was a ...."

Among the 20 or so comments left so far are a piano bar, an Italian ice shop, a yarn store and a tapas restaurant. For those who don't know, a tapas restaurant serves a medley of hot and cold appetizers as a meal.

The project began July 7 and, if all goes well, is expected to spread to other unoccupied buildings.

Meg Gernaat, DGDC promotions coordinator, said the response began slowly, but that soon, many people not associated with the downtown revitalization efforts started offering their suggestions.

"We are planning to leave it up through the end of August," Mrs. Gernaat said. "We haven't decided what we want to do with the responses yet."

Mrs. Gernaat said the DGDC will share the results with downtown property owners, hoping to spark an entrepreneur's interest.

She said she would like to see the downtown property owners take advantage of the input that comes in.

"It's really just something that we thought of to get the ball rolling," Mrs. Gernaat said. "This is sort of our guinea pig."

The city is also funding a new project to create an interactive map of downtown Goldsboro showing information about businesses in the Municipal Service District, which serves as the boundary to the city's downtown area.

City officials hope to have the project live by Dec. 1 in time for the holiday shopping season.

The nearly $34,000 cost will be paid mostly through the MSD fund, with $9,000 of the cost coming out of the DGDC budget, Mrs. Gernaat said.

"The current business directory on the website is not user-friendly or aesthetically pleasing," Mrs. Gernaat said.

COCG Marketing and Design, a Raleigh based firm, will build the interactive map for the city. The firm also built the same sort of interactive website for Crabtree Valley Mall.

Outside organizations hosting events in the city are asking for materials to show what is available downtown, making the map project even more important, Mrs. Gernaat said.

"They want a comprehensive listing of shops downtown in one location," she said.

The project will include printed maps as well.

The DGDC put out a request for proposals, which turned up two proposals, both from Raleigh companies.

After considering the two options, the DGDC requested the city move forward with COCG.

Businesses will not have to pay to be on the map.

"The downtown merchants pay taxes for that," Mrs. Gernaat said. "They have funds sitting in the MSD."

The MSD budget had $61,400 before the project.