‘The future is growth’: Summerville businesses agree with proposed development

Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 4:55 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2023 at 6:26 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Some businesses say prioritizing a sense of place in the town of Summerville is most important and sometimes that means new development, despite what some people might think.

Dorchester County has a proposed plan to turn 500 N. Main St., also known as their main county building, into a hotel, retail spaces, a parking garage and more.

Some businesses located in the heart of Summerville, like Eva’s Restaurant, think change is about time.

“If we don’t have growth, we don’t have a future,” general manager Tina Howard said.

Eva’s Restaurant has been serving the town since 1944. With the proposed development, Howard says she’s not worried about competition.

“I think it would benefit us as a small business with, you know, bringing in tourists,” Howard said. “...I don’t feel it would hurt us personally because we have such a strong, established business.”

Diane Frankenberger, the owner of People, Places & Quilts, says she’s watched Summerville grow for over 30 years. She says with the old post office as the new public works art center, the old Coca-Cola company as the new YMCA and an old hardware store as her own business, she believes both the county and town councils prioritize preservation.

“You have to go forward with the future,” Frankenberger said. “We still can’t have the same houses around here and the old town hall and no computers and blah blah blah. And so, it’s keeping a sense of place, but moving forward with an eye towards the future.”

The county has already approved plans to preserve part of the county building, which once was the old hospital, and improve the current Veteran’s monument.

“I think when people are calling names or say, ‘Don’t do something,’ let’s wait and see and work together and make the best use of what we’ve got there,” Frankenberger said.

Howard says she wants her 6-year-old grandson to be able to experience a flourishing Summerville, just like she has all her life.

“A lot of people complain about the growth and ‘People will stop coming here, we’re full, don’t come here,’” Howard said. “Without growth, we don’t have a future. The future is growth.”

Frankenberger says she’s ready to move forward.

“No more gas on the fire,” Frankenberger said. “Let’s put water on the fire.”

Dorchester County provided the following statement about the proposed plan:

Dorchester County is looking forward to having greater capacity and flexibility to complete the following projects from fee revenues of the redevelopment:

Funding to preserve the façade of the old hospital building.

A new civic park and improvements to the Veterans Memorial.

An additional $8 Million in funding to DD2 schools to supplement $2 Million from the TIF.

Provide $20 Million in funding for a Community Recreation Facility in the Summerville area.

Provide $2 Million in additional funding for streetscaping and improvements to Main Street and Cedar Street.

Provide credits for workforce housing for teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, and first responders within the multi-family development for at least 15 years.

A modern County office building and additional Class A Office Space in the downtown area.

A new downtown hotel and restaurant to provide much-needed retail and hospitality amenities in the downtown area.

Create additional parking by providing for the construction of a parking garage in the downtown area.