03/20/17 — Pikeville works toward downtown revitalization

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Pikeville works toward downtown revitalization

By Brandon Davis
Published in News on March 20, 2017 7:26 AM

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Two Paws Up, located at 101 Main St. in Pikeville, provides customers with grooming for their pets. The store sits near closed and condemned buildings the town hopes to remodel or demolish.

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Main Street in Pikeville, near the railroad tracks, is home to several businesses. Among the opened stores, however, sit closed or condemned buildings. Business owners have said they want the street to improve to increase customers and visitors.

PIKEVILLE -- Business owners on Main Street see plenty of customers shop inside their stores, but the town of Pikeville wants to remodel its downtown to attract visitors outside as well.

Helen Allen, owner of Two Paws Up pet grooming, said her 17-year-old business at 101 W. Main St. is growing with customers, servicing up to 18 dogs in a day. However, Allen said the street and buildings need a makeover to bring in more visitors downtown.

"I have a lot of customers come from out of town a lot like Wilson, Greenville, Raleigh," Allen said. "I mean, a lot of people walk, ride their bikes and stuff. I just wish it was here."

She said the sidewalks are cracked and customer parking is limited, and she said empty buildings along Main Street do not match the open businesses.

Dana Tucker, co-owner of Crawford Furniture Co., Inc., and her business partner Greg Sauls took over the nearly 70-year-old business  at 115 W. Main St. around 17 years ago.

Tucker agrees with Allen that the stores' location helps increase customers.

"With the traffic, I mean, traffic comes in and traffic comes out so they do see us," she said. "I would say Main Street does help with business because traffic comes in -- one way in and one way out."

Tucker said the clean-up of street would benefit every business.

"I think if Main Street got cleaned up, this whole area down here, we would have more shoppers," she said.

According to the town of Pikeville's website, a town building facade program allows business owners to apply for a grant from ElectriCities, a company that assists communities with North Carolina public power.

The program may provide improvements up to $4,000 for all of the town's businesses, the program's notice said.

The town's website shows several before-and-after shots of businesses' makeovers.

Howell Bros. Grocery, located at 100 W. Main St., received a makeover of the store's awnings, trim, and front and rear doors although the store closed two years ago.

Bodies Unlimited, the gym at 103 W. Main St., gained a new metal lintel, trim and door, while the upgrades to the furniture store are still in process, according to the website.

Michael Hunt, town administrator, said communities compete for ElectriCities' program  funding, but he said Pikeville has only received the $4,000 for the entire town.

Hunt estimated there are more than 10 businesses on West Main Street near the railroad tracks.

"We have policies in place to try to keep it clean," he said. "We try to keep the curbs and the gutters cleaned."

Allen said the town needs to tear down the empty buildings as well as clean up the look of the street.

Three condemned buildings sit between the gym and the furniture store, which need to come down, board members said this month, but the demolition cost poses an issue.

Hunt said buildings, located at 105, 107 and 111 W. Main St., are abandoned and unsightly. He estimated the cost to demolish all three at $30,000 due to the commercialization of the buildings.

"I will say that the board hasn't approved it; it's the funding mechanism," Hunt said. "But we would like something to be done, sooner rather than later."

He said the building at 111 W. Main St. was once a BB&T bank, but he could not confirm the previous uses of the other two buildings.

"The immediate focus is, quite frankly, Main Street just because it's in a commercial district," Hunt said. "The old BB&T building is going to be expensive by demolition standards."

Each building -- except for 107 Main St. -- has an owner. Hunt said the owners should receive a letter by next week instructing them to rehabilitate the structures within 60 days or allow the town to proceed with the demolition process.

If the owners choose not to rehabilitate or make them "livable," Hunt said, a governmental entity will proceed with the demolition of the buildings.

Hunt said any person who chooses to purchase the property will  hold the original lien and pay original back taxes.

"It's kind of frustrating that people would come in and then they buy these buildings and then they leave," Tucker said. "You're left with the looks of it."