Fort Mill Times

Main Street makeover underway

Dave’s Comics on Main Street is one of a cluster of storefronts property owner Kuester Commercial slated for redevelopment. The company said it plans to announce new tenants in about 30 days.
Dave’s Comics on Main Street is one of a cluster of storefronts property owner Kuester Commercial slated for redevelopment. The company said it plans to announce new tenants in about 30 days. Fort Mill Times File

Renovation of several Main Street properties should begin in October, bringing old architecture and new business to life.

Kuester Commercial is redeveloping the storefront that used to be Main Street’s iconic Knife Shop, as well as two others next door – Dave’s Comics and Halcyon Hills Photography. Two new tenants are planned for the location, though Kuester isn’t announcing them yet.

“We should know within 30 days what we’ll be doing there,” said Christopher Mannix, associate developer with Kuester.

Kuester also is the company behind a redevelopment several doors down on Main Street, where an historic theater property is being converted to 13,000 square feet of office and retail space. Both projects are using a town incentive for investing in historic properties, which locks in the pre-improvement tax value for decades.

Architect James Maynard with Red Clay PLLC presented electrical, plumbing and other drawings to the town historic review board Tuesday. They included a streetscape rendering, though he said several historic photos of the property have come in since to guide redevelopment. The plan is to bring back architectural features from bygone eras.

“When we did the rendering we didn’t have any photographs at all,” Maynard said.

In addition to their most recent uses, the sites have been used for a theater, drug store, tire shop, post office, doctor office and more. They were built in 1900 at the intersection of Main and Confederate streets. Drawings show up to five tenants in the space with a deck cornered opposite their Main Street sides.

The $1.5 million project should be complete next June.

The historic board gave approval for the preliminary drawings, though tenants will have to come back for approval of signage, window logos or related items.

“At this point all we’re really talking about is the structure itself,” said assistant town planner Chris Pettit.

The latest developments are part of a growing downtown area. Jim Coates, executive director with Carolina Crown, asked the historic review board for paint and window approvals Tuesday for the property his group owns on Main. They use the back half and lease out the front, where a reclaimed furniture and design business is coming.

Coates wanted to keep an original, rustic look for the outside of the building.

“He wanted it to have that same feeling of what he is selling inside,” Coates said.

With so much interest on Main, town planners are working to maintain or improve the overall feel of the historic district. Most any aesthetic change in the area, from new windows or paint to commercial signage or awnings, requires a review from the historic group. The trick is getting business owners to realize it before they make improvements, officials said.

“Education is going to be one big part of that – educating our business owners,” Pettit said.

Other efforts, up to selecting an approved list of colors for businesses on Main, could be added.

“We’re discussing it, but we don’t have one at this point,” Pettit said.

Review board member Dan Dodd said he sees, as more people come to the area, an increased importance on preserving the improving historic properties on Main.

“It’s changing,” he said. “It’s changing for the better. There’s going to be more and more eyes on every facade.”

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