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Shelby & Greenville Score Downtown Grants


Congratulations to the North Carolina public power cities of Shelby and Greenville, recipients of ElectriCities Downtown Revitalization Grants for spring 2022. Each community will receive $10,000 to help achieve its downtown revitalization goals—Shelby for its Uptown Depot Restoration project and Greenville for its Emerald Loop Artistic Lighting Plan, which is part of a larger development, the Emerald Loop.

Shelby’s Uptown Depot Restoration Project
The City of Shelby will use its grant funds to complete a study to determine the best use of its historic railroad depot that sits along its developing Carolina Harmony Trail.

The single-story, 6,000-square-foot depot, previously known as the Norfolk-Southern Railway Depot, is a contributing structure in the Central Shelby National Register Historic District. With its early 20th-century structure and location on the Carolina Harmony Trail, the depot is an economic development opportunity for Uptown Shelby that’s part of the bigger Carolina Harmony Trail project, said Shelby City Manager Rick Howell.

Rendering of Shelby’s restored train depot, courtesy of Uptown Shelby Association. Click to enlarge.

The City of Shelby purchased the retired Norfolk-Southern rail corridor that’s located through the corporate limits of the city. The City has fully engineered the northern 1.2 miles of the rail trail, recently named the Carolina Harmony Trail.

“The Carolina Harmony Trail provides an opportunity for renewal and revitalization of Uptown Shelby,” said Howell. “It will strengthen community connections and spur economic growth by creating a significant recreation, community, and tourism asset that attracts residents and visitors to Shelby, southern Cleveland County, and the region, and restoring the depot is a big part of that.”

Carl Rees, ElectriCities Economic and Community Development Manager, said, “It’s an additional piece of the tapestry that’s making Uptown Shelby one of the most picturesque downtowns in the North Carolina foothills.”

Greenville’s Emerald Loop Project
The City of Greenville, designated a SmART City by the North Carolina Arts Council in 2018, will use its Downtown Revitalization Grant to fund part of its Emerald Loop Artistic Lighting Plan.

The lighting project is part of the larger Emerald Loop Vision Plan, which came about in partnership with the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge and community stakeholders. The group’s goal was to create a project that would transform Greenville’s downtown through the arts.

“The Emerald Loop is a multimodal urban arts trail—a conceptual necklace—connecting Greenville’s artistic, cultural, and community gems, while bringing together the surrounding neighborhoods and communities,” said Kathy Howard, Business Development Specialist at Greenville Utilities Commission, which provides electricity for the City of Greenville. “The grant will help us implement the overall lighting plan, which involves adding programmable colorful LED lighting to several downtown buildings, starting with the radio tower on 5th Street.”

Conceptual design of illuminated buildings on Greenville’s Emerald Loop, courtesy of Pitt County Arts Council. Click to enlarge.

In Phase I of the project, the team has designated 11 buildings and structures for artistic lighting, including the city hall, county courthouse, and a new boutique hotel.

Along with the artistic lighting plan, main components of the Emerald Loop project include:

  • Intersection gateway murals
  • The Emerald Express, an “art on wheels” trolley system
  • Trolley stops and sheltered benches

“This is an arts master plan for Greenville’s downtown area, as well as an economic development strategy based off the SmART Communities designation that demonstrates how the arts transform downtowns and fuel sustainable economic development,” said Holly Garriott, Executive Director of Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge, who is serving as project manager for the Emerald Loop planning process. “This is truly a partnership between the public and private sectors, with funding assistance provided by several stakeholders as well as the National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, and other foundations and grants like this one from ElectriCities.”

The next cycle for ElectriCities Downtown Revitalization Grants opens in October 2022. Learn more about them and other ways ElectriCities’ Economic Development team can help you spark growth in your public power community here.

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