Setting the Scene to Explain The Concept of Walkable Neighborhoods – Part 1


 People Enjoy The Streetscape in Greenville, SC

We’re on the fast train, as the English call them, called The Learning Curve. Admit it, we’re feeling quite grown up bantering words about like, Anchor Projects, (The Train Station, Imperial Center, The Douglas Block) – Incubators (entrepreneurs co-work space) – The Third Place, (The Smokehouse, Koi Pond & Sweet Taters.) Today we are adding the concept: Walkable Neighborhoods.

In late May I went home to the Chicago area; a beautiful and vital city with numerous shops, restaurants, places to work and visit. There are enough residents and visitors to support the rich mix of uses. Portland, New Orleans and Greenville, SC are further exciting examples of places where we find people who walk to stores, work, school and amenities. We recognize the healthy lifestyles these walking cities offer and note the improved real estate values. Across the country, communities like ours that are reimagining themselves, are involved in the monumental task of enticing people into their historic downtown core areas which offer beautiful architecture in silent buildings waiting for a second chance and where businesses may be sparse. Those places with a great story, that can offer a sense of place, like we have here in Rocky Mount, are making progress. I hope you too are  fascinated with the renewal concepts that are in play as the pieces of the puzzle fill in.

I’m not an urban renewal expert. You’ll forgive my simplistic approach to the process, but I hope this analogy is helpful. I think of a 500-piece puzzle scattered across a card table. Some people who work puzzles always start with the edge pieces, others like to work on small sections at a time that eventually fit within the framework. Piece by piece the puzzle comes together.

Main Street
Main Street

You might not always agree with the order in which the puzzle is being put together, but refer back to the box lid to remind yourself of the BIG picture. Amazing people like Peter Varney have worked on the edges of our Rocky Mount puzzle, shepherding anchor projects; the Train Station & The Imperial Center. Ed Riley, at The Prime Smokehouse, offers hospitality, vital in this picture. Evan Chavez, Development Manager – Rocky Mount Mill, is constantly working on the Mill pieces that are particular and essential. Kimberly Thigpen has fit The Bath Place pieces into the Douglas Block refurbishment. I particularly like the pieces that build the fabulous streetscape, with its benches and maturing trees.

With this introduction, join me for Part 2: Adding new meaning to the concept of  ‘walkable neighborhoods.’


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