Downtown district poised for explosion of activity

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Mount Olive’s town manager said it is apparent to him that the town’s downtown district is poised for an explosion of activities.

Manager Charles Brown listed a number of activities underway, including state funding for a downtown farmers market, a new restaurant opening next month, current expansion of Ribeyes Steakhouse, plans for the blackbox theater in the old Martin Drug Store on South Center, possible renovation of the burned-out former Kraft building that was destroyed, discussions about the old theater, possible sale of the vacant lot beside the chamber office, and the relocation of the police department to the old rescue building.

The town manager said Mayor Joe Scott is already scheduled to meet with state authorities and lawmakers about the status of a $150,000 grant for construction of a farmer’s market.

He said the money would come from the North Carolina Department of Commerce under its Small Town Development program.

The project is a planned cooperative effort between the town and the University of Mount Olive’s Agricultural Department.

Brown said university officials are “very excited about it” and the town is working closely with them.

The market would be built on the southeast corner at the intersection of South Center and Pollock streets.

The town manager said he has no details, but there are plans in place for the burned-out former Kraft building on James Street.

“As I understand it the owners of the building plan to rebuild the first floor of the two-story structure. Previously, it provided space for three businesses,” Brown said.

He has no information about the future of the old Center Theatre, but said he understands there is interest in that old building, too.

He said the university is also moving forward on construction of a blackbox theater in the old Glenn Martin Drug Store on South Center Street.

“I think all of this sends out a signal for some exciting things in the works for our downtown area. We are in the works for some live entertainment, and new business and I see all of this in place a year from now,” he said.

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