Revitalization breathes new life into Lake City

LAKE CITY, SC (WMBF) - Empty storefronts scatter main street in Lake City. It's nothing new, in fact in today's time, it's a common plague among the small towns in America.

Here in Lake City, the struggle is no different, but what is is the plan to get this city back to it's glory days.

"When I was a kid you couldn't get down main street on Fridays or Saturday because everyone from all surrounding areas came to Lake City to shop," says Lake City Mayor Lovith Anderson, Junior.

For decades, business in Lake City was good - really good. It was not only the largest bean market in the world it was also the fourth largest strawberry market in the U.S. Unfortunately when business dried up, the town did too.

Now three to four key organizations including the Lake City Partnership Council are working side by side with the city to revitalize the area in phases.

"We've gotten to the point that we've realized that we're stronger together than we are apart and that makes a big difference in the things that we're trying to get done," says Mayor Anderson.

It's been only three years since they began the heavy lifting on this 30-year-plan. From the brand new marketplace and outdoor music park, to implementing workforce training initiatives and marketing efforts, progress is being made.

"If I had to say in the context of 30 years am I satisfied with our first three? Probably so," says Darla Moore.

With a city with so much history and charm in it's architecture, giving the bleak downtown a makeover is key.

So they're scarfing up old buildings, upgrading them and leasing them out. Meaning downtown is a huge blank canvas for architect Joe Rogers.

From a design stand point this is great. It's always satisfying thing but this is so much bigger than that because we have the opportunity to kind of design a town," says Joe Rogers.

Of course they realize in today's economy things won't happen overnight, but just like the evolution of a butterfly, beautiful and worthwhile things take time.

"We want to move forward in a progressive way and we want to make our town liveable so that the young folks can grow up here, go off to college and then move back home. you know I'm a grandparent and I'm sure want my grand babies close to home," says Mayor Anderson.

And here's another way they're trying to improve the quality of life in town. Right now the partnership is looking to transform this empty caboose into a very unique food truck where you can stop and have lunch. They have plans to gut it and replace the inside with a working kitchen and then lease it out.

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