South Charlotte

Downtown event celebrates renovations

A celebration of downtown will take place in Pineville to recognize the grand opening of the Jack D. Hughes Park, Two On Earth Bakery and farmers market.

A downtown merchant's festival will also be held on Main Street to help promote downtown business.

The May 21 event is part of Pineville's downtown renovation project.

The renovations began almost two years ago with street improvements and tree installation on Main Street and have continued with a new police department building, improvements to Jack D. Hughes Park and the opening of new businesses.

The town has spent about $9 million on renovations.

The town is also applying for historic designation with the National Register of Historic Places and to the N.C. Main Street Center's Small Town Main Street Program, which both would help revitalize downtown.

Mike Rose, Pineville town administrator, has been working for the town for 10 years and believes now is the time for Pineville to start reinventing itself.

The May 21 celebration "is a way for us to celebrate all we've accomplished downtown and all the things we plan to do in the future," he said. "Towns, like businesses, have to stay fresh without ignoring who we are and where we came from. We are tying a lot of that recognition to what we are doing with the preservation and promotion of downtown area, but we also recognize that change is necessary and important."

The day will begin at 8 a.m. in the police station parking lot with the opening of the farmers market. The market is the first in Pineville's history and has five confirmed vendors selling products such as locally grown produce and homemade arts and crafts. Events will continue with the opening of the Jack D. Hughes Park at 10 a.m., which will feature free hot dogs and T-shirts, a visit from the Charlotte Knights team mascot Homer the Dragon and baseball, softball and lacrosse clinics.

Although the park has been in use since February, the town wanted to wait until spring to have to an official opening.

"People want to be outside when it's nice out," said Rose. "I hope they will come check out the park as well as stroll down the walking trails or play on the playground. We want our residents to enjoy the park even if they are not baseball players."

The day will end with a downtown merchants festival at 2 p.m. where owners will set up tents and displays on the sidewalk. The event will feature refreshments, music, arts and crafts provided by downtown businesses.

Two On Earth Bakery will be celebrating its grand opening. The bakery is a first for downtown and had its soft opening three weeks ago. Owner Alana Sult said business has been steady and she is pleased with the Pineville location.

"The corner lot is great for visibility and I just love the feel of the old downtown," she said. "We already have 15 regulars, most who live near downtown."

Many town officials have said they hope the bakery will attract similar businesses.

"We know people are really counting on us to succeed," Sult said. "It's a lot on our shoulders but I know we can do it. I hope one day the area can be really artistic like NoDa or Belmont."

Rose said the goal of the celebration is to give the area an economic boost by attracting visitors downtown.

"We are trying to keep downtown Pineville vibrant and economically strong because it increases property values for residents and commercial owners," he said. "(The renovation project) was a desire for us to keep our identity of a small town community with an intimate small town feeling."

"(The celebration) is a starting point to bringing more business and positive economic development into downtown," he said. "As people are coming in and enjoying the area they will hopefully also visit other commercial areas, like the (Carolina Place) mall. I think it will help bring a new energy into the town."