Community leaders discuss new retail and restaurants, anticipate industrial expansion here soon

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A restaurant on Lewisburg's bypass has a new owner who is improving his business.

At the Community Development Board meeting last week, Lewisburg's Director of Economic Development Greg Lowe reported meeting the new owner-operator of Shoney's, Dan Holt of Fayetteville. Holt took over on Aug. 27 and is already making renovation plans.

A building on a corner of Lewisburg's square might also become a restaurant, according to CDB discussion.

Lewisburg Downtown Alliance leader Rev. Leland Carden showed CDB members plans made by O'More College students for the former Butler Brothers Hardware store on the southwest corner of the square.

"They came up with a concept for a sit-down restaurant," he said. "There's 14,000 square feet of space. The first floor and the mezzanine would be for the restaurant, and the top floor could be an art gallery or a meeting room. There are two sets of beautiful oak stairs.

"The building is for sale," Carden said. "The owner is in Belize."

Action on the corner building cannot be postponed for long, he added, because it will need a new roof soon.

Lowe reported he had a possible local investor interested in the building, and suggested it could also be marketed as a second location for someone already running a restaurant in a similar small town.

Since the CDB's meeting, another new restaurant has opened, according to the LDA's Facebook page. Hidden Creek Steakhouse, at 1505 Verona Caney Road, held its grand opening on Thursday, Aug. 30.

Other good news mentioned by Lowe included the possible return to Lewisburg of a "major brand-name retail outlet." Lowe stated this was not a franchise situation; the company was seeking someone to run the store.

"We have the potential to bring that here," he said. "It would be nice to have them back."

Later the same day, at the meeting of Lewisburg's Planning and Zoning Board, another piece of good news was revealed as a local landowner requested annexation of his 40-acre property on Fayetteville Highway by the City of Lewisburg. The land is adjacent to the industrial park and annexation would pave the way for a local industry to expand its plant.

"It will be a great thing for the City of Lewisburg," said Planning and Zoning Chairman Jim Bingham. Favorable votes on annexation by city councilmen are anticipated this month.

In addition to presenting the plans for the corner building, Carden showed CDB members the model O'More students made for a pavilion at the site of the old town spring.

"This is just a conception," Carden said. "It's pretty good for a couple of interior design students."

"That spring was the water supply for the city," said Lewisburg Mayor Barbara Woods. "It was flowing in 1838 and it's still flowing today."

The dowels used in the model represent telephone poles, but Carden suggested fast-growing Lombardy poplar trees could be used instead.

"It would be a unique destination," he concluded.

CDB Chairman Edmund Roberts added, "What came out of the O'More (College) visit to us is very exciting."

CDB members started their meeting by discussing the news that a preliminary report from the Wyoming team that visited Lewisburg in April has finally been submitted, though it is still lacking input from one of the group's members.

"It's basically a draft, but the main thing is: it's here," said Roberts. He noted that the community's problems have been listed twice, while the listing of community strengths was omitted, a defect that will doubtless be corrected when the report is finalized.

The 83-page report has been distributed by e-mail to CBD members and other interested parties throughout the community.

"They didn't think we're as bad as we think we are," exclaimed Lowe. "There's some good stuff in there. Downtown development - some of that's already happening."

CDB members decided to go through the community assessment section by section over the next few months, pulling out good things to try to do.