Big changes coming to downtown Conway

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - There are new details on the efforts to improve Downtown Conway. Experts have finalized a downtown study, and now WMBF News is learning more about what could be coming in the future. The study contains 30 pages of researched ways to improve this downtown area, and it could mean big changes are coming.

"The City of Conway invested a lot of time and money in this project, and they wanted just that, something to move us forward," said Hillary Howard, with Downtown Alive. "Not only for this decade, but for the next one as well."

The project lists bringing in new businesses like restaurants, spas and cosmetic stores, specialty stores and sporting goods stores. These shops have the opportunity to reel in millions of dollars to Conway. The research shows having stores that sell electronics or even grocery stores could pour in about $30 million in sales.

Adding new business is sure to bring more attention and more visitors, but local leaders say it's not the focus. They're hoping to make sure everyone who lives in the area has what they need downtown so they don't have to go anywhere else to get it.

Shoppers agree with this plan for the future.

"It's a nice town," said Heather Lapierre. "But I think you could add a little more color and a few more artisan things and restaurants that will be an asset for sure."

The study of the downtown area was underway for nearly a year. Even though it will be used to make changes for at least the decade, there are some things that are being done this year. The first thing is to search for spots for business to fit in. Since there's not much room, the idea is to expand what we know now as the downtown area. Howard says it might be time to push the boundaries, and develop the main street district or have businesses set up near and around the historic county courthouse.

This will be for a range of new downtown development, from stores to housing. Howard tells WMBF News there already is a list of businesses waiting for room, so this is a top priority.

"We're just working on space and thinking outside of the box - how we can make something work to get them downtown now," said Howard.

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