Reducing Crime & Poverty: How Rocky Mount’s Downtown Revitalization Helps

Downtown Revitalization Rocky Mount NC

Two words: Downtown Revitalization

Not only are cities across the country embracing and improving their downtown areas, but these renovations demonstrate how this innovation can make cities less dangerous and fight poverty. 

Rocky Mount is no different. Rocky Mount’s downtown development has not only been a success, but the city’s crime rate is at a 35-year low. Additional benefits of downtown development include: employment opportunities, restoration of historic buildings and reduced crime. Crime prevention techniques are most effective if they address all environmental factors, from street lighting to clean streets.

Redevelopment of the Historic Douglas Block

The Rocky Mount redevelopment of the historic Douglas Block is getting attention: It was featured in an article by the University of North Carolina School of Government, citing the project as “one of Rocky Mount’s most successful initiatives.”  The article highlighted Rocky Mount’s success in utilizing the strength of public/private partnerships to help the project come to fruition. According to the author, Anisha Steephen:


“A project like Douglas Block demonstrates some of the advantages and challenges of City-led public-private partnership. The public-private structure not only catalyzed the City’s redevelopment goals without waiting for private capital but also allowed Rocky Mount the flexibility to develop their own vision for the project site that fit into broader municipal goals. This also pushed Rocky Mount to refine a finance structure that was beneficial to both the City and their private lending partner. The public-private partnership also provided an opportunity for the public sector to take on a large-scale, meaningful project…. This could not have occurred without commitment and leadership by key Rocky Mount city staff that oversaw the Douglas Block project from start to finish.”

Last month, development experts from across the state paid a visit to Rocky Mount to examine the city’s downtown assets, including the Rocky Mount Brewmill, the Douglas Block, Milton & Miles and the Prime Smokehouse. They also visited Lou Reda’s restaurant. These experts were members of the N.C. Downtown Development Association, and they honored Rocky Mount by selecting it as the site of its annual meeting. This non-profit organization brings together experts to collaborate on the best strategies to enhance downtown development across the state. 

Embrace Mill Town as Part of Rocky Mount History

According to an article in the Rocky Mount Telegram, the officials were impressed by the way Rocky Mount embraced its heritage. For example, although Rocky Mount Mills has closed, the city has embraced the mill town as a part of its history, launching the Brewmill project.

Did you know that Rocky Mount's central city/downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places? The buildings reflect the Rocky Mount of the late 19th and 20th centuries, when it was a tobacco boom town. Now these buildings are renovated and are home to new businesses, doctors’ offices, and residential apartments. 

Rocky Mount housing and economic growth are on an upward trend!

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