The Transylvania Times -

By Kevin Fuller
Staff Writer 

Downtown Seeing A Buzz Of Activity - Brevard NC

 


The recent acquisition of property by the City of Brevard for the construction of a parking lot to help alleviate parking issues is representative of the foot traffic on downtown streets.

“It’s in a good place,” said Heath Seymour, executive director for Heart of Brevard, the nonprofit tasked with economic development in the downtown area.

The downtown area is going through a transformation, with businesses expanding and new construction. Several businesses are relocating — simply for more space.

“There are people out there looking to open businesses,” Seymour said.

Taking a stroll through downtown Brevard, visitors and city residents are most likely to notice the bustle of construction crews working on the large development at the corner of Broad and Jordan streets, which is symbolic of a downtown area being rebuilt after the recession of the mid-2000s.

The building being developed by Mike Domokur, who brought Jaime’s Creole Brasserie downtown and also has several other projects in the works downtown, will eventually be 4,500 square feet of retail and residential space and is expected to be open later this summer.

There has not been an announcement of tenants, but Domokur is confident in filling the space.

Domokur is also the developer partly responsible for revitalizing the Aethelwold building with local business owner Tim Hall.

The building is a sign that available space has become hard to find in downtown Brevard.

Seymour said about 50 businesses either opened or expanded in the downtown area just this past year. The downtown area has expanded its dining by about 25 percent, he added.

“We have less properties available right now than we’ve had in the past,” Seymour said.

Seymour said there’s currently a waiting list of businesses looking for spaces to open up.

Two major expansions are also shuffling the face of downtown.

Hall took his business Underground Salvage to the Lumberyard District to be able to capitalize on the available warehouse space.

Another new business at the Lumberyard is Squatch Bikes and Brews, which will offer apparel and gear for cyclists and mountain bikers, plus be a stopping off point to have a beer or two. A new restaurant — Magpie, a meat plus three-style establishment, is also being developed at the site.

As soon as Hall’s former space on East Main Street became available, the owners of D.D. Bullwinkel’s General Store and Moose Tracks Footwear, Dee Dee and Jimmy Perkins, jumped at the opportunity to expand both businesses.

And the move came with local and state support, garnering a $500,000 loan through the state’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

The $500,000 comes in the form of a “forgivable loan,” meaning if the property ownership and businesses remain with the building, as stated in the application, at the end of four years the loan is forgiven and no money is paid back.

The loan will be in addition to the $1.3 million capital investment they will make in the old Belk’s building.

If the loan is finalized, it will mean Heart of Brevard’s Economic Committee will have steered a total of $700,000 in funding into the community in the past two years

The expansion isn’t the only movement happening downtown.

Blue Ridge Bakery recently opened its doors for a larger space at 86 W. Main St.

However, the move wasn’t just about the space.

“We moved downtown for more foot traffic,” said Katina Hansen, who co-owns the bakery with her husband. “We are happy to be here.”

The move from South Broad Street gave them an additional 200 square feet, bumping the total up to 2,300 square feet for the popular bakery.

The owners of West Main Barber Shop, located next to the bakery, said they’ve found a tenant for the small building, which was recently rebuilt, next to the barber shop, and an announcement on the tenant would come later this summer.

A new music venue has also opened in downtown. The DFR Room opened its doors earlier this month in the lower level of 36 E. Main St.

The new mid-size music venue will eventually host concerts and weekly music events, including jazz nights, blues, country music and contra dancing.

The DFR Room is another project developed by Domokur. Dubbed “Brevard’s Underground Music Venue,” the 3,000-square-foot multi-use event space has been retrofitted with a 400-square-foot stage, green room, open floor plan for versatility, and features the 1,200-square-foot Ecusta Brewing taproom.

Domokur is also developing a butcher/market, which will be located in the alley next to Jaime’s and will feature various goods and foods.

Another recent new business is Mountain Paint and Decorating, which set up shop directly across from City Hall.

While retail and restaurants seem to be on steady ground, the arts community is continuing to make waves downtown.

Star Fangled Press, a small independent print shop, opened on Jordan Street, while ArtWorks has opened up its doors at 27 W. Broad Street.

“There’s more artsy stuff to come,” Seymour said, referring to upcoming announcements about new art-related businesses scheduled to open downtown.

All the activity, however, comes with a quandary.

“Because there have been so many empty spaces filled over the past couple of years, we are now short on available space to rent, but the supply and demand does seem to be balancing out overall,” Seymour said.

Downtown movement that tends to go unseen is the market for second-floor office space.

“I’ve had a lot of interest in upper-floor office space,” said Seymour.

Seymour said help is on the way. Several second-floor office spaces will soon become available.

A downtown building, which Seymour would not identify because the transaction is still in the works, is in the process of being sold.

Once the transaction is complete it will offer several second-floor office spaces, which are almost certain to be rented immediately.

Seymour said it’s just representative of the buzz downtown.

“They’re looking downtown,” he said.

 
 

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