Sumter’s civic pride shines in the revitalized historic streets of downtown and in the fun entertainment and events offered. This reinvestment in downtown has been a true public and private effort that locals say has paid off in a big way.
Downtown Sumter’s New Vision
Behind the aggressive revitalization project, which includes street and landscape improvements, building renovations and in some cases new construction, is the City of Sumter’s vision of downtown as a “symbolic and functional heart of both the city and the county.”
“Having a lively downtown brings about a great quality of life for our community,” says Howie Owens, downtown development manager for the City of Sumter, “and the wonderful concerts and events provide a fantastic atmosphere for you to spend time with friends and family."
Attorney Wade Kolb made one of the first reinvestments in downtown when he renovated a two-story building on North Main Street which was originally constructed in the early 1900s. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the remodeling was certified and approved by both the National Park Service and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
“The city has done a good job of promoting downtown development,” Kolb says. “They are improving the parking lots, adding landscaping and lighting, and getting rid of the old buildings that are beyond repair.”
Along with Kolb, Harold Nixon jumped on the revitalization bandwagon early on by tearing down a defunct building and replacing it with his Xerox Digital Office Equipment location. It was built to look like a historic building.
Near Kolb's building, Greg Thompson renovated two buildings, moving his Thompson Construction Group’s corporate headquarters into one of them in 2010 and opening Hamptons restaurant in the other. Thompson also created downtown living space by renovating apartments in a building just a block off Main Street.
“As a community, we have succeeded in making great strides over the past years,” says Thompson, who also chairs the Sumter Development Board. “I strongly believe that the best is yet to come.”
Where Sumterites Go for Entertainment
Downtown Friday Nights celebrate summer every Friday evening beginning in May and continuing through September. Live music is featured on Main Street, at the City Centre Terrace and at Rotary Plaza, a project of the local Rotary clubs that celebrated Rotary International’s 100th anniversary in 2005.
Movie buffs will love classic movie nights at the Opera House. The historic theater also presents live shows, including plays, dance and music performances. Pairing a show with a meal at one of the many downtown eateries makes a great night on the town.
The Main Street area hosts a variety of dining choices. Cafe on Main’s menu lists soups, salads, sandwiches and diner plates, Serendipity features "meat-and-three"-style soul food, Hamptons’ Southern cuisine showcases local seasonal ingredients and regional foods, and Angel’s offers a variety Mexican dishes.
Working in Downtown Sumter
A vibrant downtown workforce keeps the sidewalks bustling and downtown vendors busy. Large downtown employers include Tuomey Healthcare System and the City of Sumter offices, located in the City Center. Sitting on a renovated Main Street corner where an auto parts store once stood is the new, state-of-the-art facility for Central Carolina Technical College’s Health Sciences Center.
“Downtown looks a lot better than it used to,” says Kolb, who has maintained a downtown business presence for almost 10 years. “And the economics have improved, too.”
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