Spirit of Rowan: East Spencer follows through with Gateway Master Plan
In March 2014, the East Spencer town board began creating its Gateway Plan, designed to create development around and near Interstate 85 at Exit 79 and Andrews Street. It hopes the draw a convenience store similar to Sheetz, a bank, a drugstore, a fast-food or casual-dining restaurant, a department store and a hotel.
Other projects also fall under the Gateway Plan:
• In 2014, the town board completed an inventory of vacant property that found 106 units in need of repair or beyond repair. Some homes were torn down by the owners while others had a lien placed on them.The goal is to have new houses built. The town’s demographics have changed, and younger families are moving to East Spencer, Mayor Barbara Mallett said.
• A $400,000 federal brownfields grant helped the town create the Long Street Corridor Plan, said Town Planner Joe Morris. The town plans to evaluate and assess six to eight sites for redevelopment. The town will also be able to test other vacant sites to determine development potential.
• Royal Giants Park has been slowly undergoing rehabilitation since 2015. The town raised more than $300,000 in donations and pledges and in 2016 received a matching state grant. Phase I of the plan includes a splash park, a picnic shelter, cornhole courts, renovations to the restroom and shelter, basketball courts, walking trails and a playground.
“It’s becoming a bigger part of relocating. Families are looking at quality-of-life issues,” said interim Town Administrator F.E. Isenhour. “We are coming to the end of the tunnel. The future is very, very bright.”
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