Editor's Note: One year after new sidewalks were installed and trees planted, downtown Thomson is taking on a new, vibrant look. The town no longer looks ghostly. New businesses are moving in and old buildings are getting facelifts. This week, The McDuffie Mirror continues a multi-part series examining the changes taking place in the Camellia City of the South.
The new appeal to downtown is expected to have an even greater significance once the new city/county government center is completed. The targeted construction date is about 18 months away.
Next month, the local economic growth and community development offices currently located in the Depot downtown will move into the old Post Office building on Main Street.
Work is being done by Two State Construction to transform the post office building into the new home of the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce, the Development Authority and the Thomson-McDuffie Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Forward McDuffie Director Mike Carrington said the walls have been painted and they are waiting on the computer and phone lines to be hooked up before installing the new carpet. He said next week, the city will begin accepting bids for putting in the new parking lot in the empty lot behind the post office.
"I really like this building, but we are really hurting for space, especially storage space," Mr. Carrington said while seated behind his desk at the Depot.
The new facility will have larger offices with their own storage closets for each of the departments on the first floor. The second floor has a large conference room with a projector and screen. Also upstairs, are five additional offices that will be rented out to other tenants. Mr. Carrington said they are looking for non-profit tenants that serve the community.
The festival committees that normally meet at the Depot will move their meetings to the new location, also.
"It"s just a change in location. Everything will be the same for the services offered," Mr. Carrington said.
City Administrator Don Powers said the city has received a $400,000 grant to renovate the Depot. Mr. Powers said walls will be removed in the office space at the front of the Depot to make a large meeting space to add to the Depot"s function as a meeting/banquet facility.
Camellia Partners, Inc.
Although no business is moving in yet, three abandoned and dilapidated buildings on Main Street are looking new and inviting. The adjacent buildings are next door to H&R Block on Main Street in downtown Thomson.
The buildings were purchased by Camellia Partners for Heritage and Economic Development, Inc. to be renovated and made ready to be inhabited.
The faded pink siding has been removed from the front of the old Sports Palace pool hall, and a roof with a sky-light has been added to the building next door. The Hughes Building also is being remodeled. Mary Anne Coussons, the executive director of Camellia Partners, said the buildings are being transformed into restaurants or retail space.
"They have been taken down to their original look," she said. "And I think they look a lot better. "The whole downtown is beginning to look great. We hope it will create a new interest for businesses and people to come downtown. When other businesses see a vital downtown, they will feel secure in becoming a part of us and creating a better quality of life for the citizens of McDuffie County.