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By: Charlotte Smith

Since 2016, Boost the Boro, Inc. members, and the Town of Bladenboro officials have been working together on a steering committee to help revitalize Bladenboro. Since then, downtown Bladenboro has been devastated by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

Now, Bladenboro town officials and Boost the Boro members are working with the Bladen County Commissioners and Bladen’s Bloomin Agri-Industrial to redevelop the town right at its core, according to Chuck Heustess, Executive Director of Bladen County Economic Development.

The revitalization project is not a one project plan. “We hope this will be a multi-phase project,” Heustess said. “The fear is if we don’t get businesses back downtown the town will die,” He added.

That fear Heustess mentioned has put plans into action.

The first phase will be to rebuild at the site where Dr. Helms’ office was in the past. First Citizens Bank agreed to sell the parking lot between the buildings downtown to help with the project. Steve Simmons offered to donate the building that once held the optometrist office.

The first phase will be to rebuild the heart of downtown into a commercial center with four to six brick buildings to house businesses.

In order to keep the buildings from receiving flood damage the plan is to build the new commercial properties up out of the flood plain. The plan is to keep the architecture of the new commercial center as close to the historical architecture of Bladenboro as possible. The planned buildings will have different brick colors to keep the historic look and feel to the town, according to Heustess.

Town Administrator, Blake Proctor explained new businesses or businesses that once had an office in the downtown area are encouraged to contact Heustess’ office to find out more.

Barbers, beauticians, trades, insurance companies, doctors, retail and appliance repair stores are all welcome to apply to lease the buildings. The hope is to start the first phase rebuild just after Beast Fest this year, according to Heustess.

“We think the costs of leasing the buildings will be very cost efficient,” Heustess said. For more information call 910-645-2292.

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