Conover set for streetscape improvements

Staff Writer

O-N-E Reporter
Lance Hight, planning director for Conover, said there are new improvements coming for the streetscape.
He said that it’s a collaborative project between the city and the N.C. DOT.
The process has been in the works for several years and the funding was started in 2015.
“It’s a bicycle and pedestrian project that will improve walkability in downtown Conover,” Hight said.
He said that specifically there will be dedicated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, tree medians, and curb extensions.
“Ideally you have all the same travel lanes, but it feels tighter, so it will hopefully slow drivers down,” Hight said.
The project comes from the heavy traffic problems in the area and concerns for pedestrian safety.
Hight said that on average, 15,000 cars pass through downtown Conover a day as accessed by the N.C. DOT and city traffic counters.
“It’s challenging for pedestrians to get around,” Hight said.
Along with the sidewalk improvements, he said that the city is promoting a Downtown Façade Revitalization Grant.
“We want to focus on improving the aesthetics of downtown Conover,” Hight said. “Individual business owners can apply for a grant to get new windows, have painting done, have awnings replaced, or for other repairs.”
He said that so far seven business owners have applied and received the grant and he wants more people to get on board.
“Our goal is to revitalize downtown and make it a place people want to be, shop, and visit,” Hight said.
Mayor Lee Moritz is also onboard with the up and coming changes.
He’s excited about having improvements made to the local businesses and shops and says he feels “very strongly” about the projects going on.
“We are investing heavily into our downtown with the streetscapes,” he said.
Moritz is encouraged that the improvements will lead to better commerce in the community.
“A strong downtown is the heartbeat of any city,” he said. “We want our city to thrive and have a lot of business and activity.”
Moritz said that the city hired a commercial designer to assist on the project to mainstream a key architectural style that Conover will use from here on out. One of the projects to make the town more attractive is by having the businesses use a similar paint scheme.
Sherwin-William’s American Heritage paint palette was agreed upon as the new standard for downtown Conover.
“We want to avoid having structures in our downtown that do not fit in,” Moritz said. “We’re not trying to stifle individual landlords’ creativity, but trying to promote a cohesive look to inspire a shoppable, village atmosphere.”
He also wants to encourage business owners to take advantage of the Downtown Façade Revitalization Grant.
“We’re trying to entice our commercial building property owners and landlords to invest,” Moritz said. “There’s no better time to do it.”