Further Discussion: Rocky Mount Downtown Development Manager Position

With time and experience, the approach to the development of urban and rural areas has evolved. Climbing on bulldozers, housing low-income people in high-rise buildings has not worked. Maurice Cox, who leads Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development, said,

“It’s about time, after decades of thinking we save neighborhoods by demolishing buildings, we realize we save neighborhoods by reusing them.”

The approach and planning for successful downtown development needs leadership that will embrace once again the Main Street Program with its proven, successful strategies in preserving, restoring and repurposing the downtown core of a community. Rocky Mount lost its accreditation with the program through a lack of leadership that wasn’t keen on being accountable or transparent. We are lagging in our development. Visit Tarboro, Elizabeth City, New Bern, and Goldsboro who have all adhered to the rules of the road, and today are enjoying the reimagining of themselves with the help of the Main Street Program accreditation. Photo below-New Bern, NC

Willing community leadership, partnering with the Main Street Program and local development staff are a proven winning strategy. Until city government can afford to expand the Downtown Development staff, the Manager position can only operate as if is already a day late and a dollar short.

I urge you to read or reread last week’s blog  which names the many skills needed after preservation became more than where George Washington slept.

My husband’s career was at Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago. One of their award winning advertizing campaigns was...This is not your father’s Oldsmobile. I think of that phrase and its implications when I think of the Main Street Program’s influence helping a downtown flourish once again. I think Rocky Mount deserves at this point in its downtown development to post the Manager position for applicants that are equipped to lead because of their observable success where they have been and are committed to move us forward under the Main Street Program banner.


From an article written by Zach Mortice for CITY/LAB: One National, Under Renovation, we have facts to demonstrate saving architecture through renovation is changing.

For the first time in 20 years, renovations have overtaken new construction in architectural billings in the US. The popularity of fixing up older buildings in US cities recently hit a record high. As of spring 2022, the majority of architecture firm billings come from renovation work, not new construction, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA).It’s the first time in the 20 years the AIA has collected this data that renovations have breached 50%. In 2005, toward the end of a pre-recession building boom, renovations made up approximately one-third of billings. That share has been increasing steadily since 2017, when it was 44.4%, up to 52% this year. Kermit Baker, the AIA’s chief economist, says that the last time the market for design services was so heavily weighted toward renovations was likely during the Great Depression.


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