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Downtown looking good to investors

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Brett Hill with Moorefield Real Estate and Erich Burnk, an architect with Ratio in Raleigh, look over downtown development plans at an investors meeting Thursday at the Imperial Centre.

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By LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Public investments like the Downtown Community Facility are spurring private investments in Rocky Mount, according to city planners and real estate agents who are flocking to the area.

“The DCF isn't an island unto itself,” said John Jesso, the city's downtown development manager.

Realtor Ben Braddock sees an ocean of opportunity in Rocky Mount real estate. After time in the Raleigh market, Braddock moved to West Haven because he sees Rocky Mount as a city on the rise. He's made several considerable investments here and formed an investor networking group. He's been holding meetings to tell real estate investors about Rocky Mount. The meetings are attracting folks from Raleigh, Durham and Greensboro.

Nearly 100 interested buyers and real estate agents gathered for a meeting at the Imperial Centre last week — all looking for a way to wade into the Rocky Mount market and become the next Rocky Mount Mills.

At the meeting there were lenders, developers, flippers and general contractors.

“They're looking, fishing, talking and developing,” Jesso said.

Developers are in the process of revitalizing the May and Gorham Building on Tarboro Street, the Carlton House at Thomas and Church streets, the old post office and other historic buildings in downtown. Once complete with residential units upstairs and shops and restaurants downstairs at street level, these buildings will compliment the Downtown Community Facility and create a vibrant downtown where folks from all over will be able to enjoy themselves in a safe environment, according to planners and developers.

“A healthy Rocky Mount is good for everyone in Nash and Edgecombe counties,” Jesso said. “People need to stop thinking of the railroad tracks along the county lines as separating us and see the tracks as a zipper that bring us together.”

The work will be apparent beginning in 2018 with the results coming down the line in 36 months or so, Jesso said.

The area has jobs with big employers like Nash UNC Health Care, Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant, Pfizer, Honeywell and Keihin Carolina. The issue is getting folks to want to live in Rocky Mount.

“We're creating a community where people want to live,” Jesso said.

The move began with the 2000 refurbishment of the train station followed by Braswell Memorial Library, the Douglas Block and the Sports Complex.

Braddock said the Braswell Memorial Library, the Imperial Centre, Rocky Mount Mills, Sunset Park and the Downtown Community Facility are all within a mile or so of downtown.

Jesso said ultimately he'd like to see people livke in Rocky Mount and commute to the Triangle.

The revitalization effort is part of the city's downtown master strategy. More information can be found at http://www.ratiodesign.com/clients/ratioadmin/%5Bproject-name%5D/rocky-mount-downtown-strategy.

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