GASTONIA, N.C. – Many of the storefronts in downtown Gastonia are boarded up and have been for years, but a push to bring people back received a major jump start Monday.
Crews were hard at work destroying one of the oldest buildings in downtown Gastonia, but with good reason. The $2.5 million renovation of the Armstrong apartments will bring 18 new residents to the struggling area.
“One of the key strategies to revitalization is getting people living downtown and spending dollars downtown and this project will result in that,” said Jack Kiser.
Kiser heads up strategic development for the city and estimates about one-fifth of the storefronts are still boarded up. But he said things are beginning to turn around.
“Downtown no longer looks like a ghost town. There is really a lot of activity and a lot of new interest in real estate and we’re all very excited about it,” he said.
James Hughes opened Sharkey’s just last week on Main Street and said he has a five-year plan to be successful.
For now, though, he admits he plans to send a bus to Charlotte to bring customers in for special Thursday night events at the restaurant.
“Once we see the people then we’ll see the supermarket, the dog parks that will all come,” Hughes said with confidence.
“I would think within five years you'll see a dramatic improvement,” Kiser added.