INMAN — Inman was the only city in Spartanburg County selected to be a part of a revitalization program and community vibrancy grant aimed at continuing to attract investment and people to its downtown.
It’s part of the national Main Street America Coordinating Program that gives cities the tools, knowledge and connections to modernize their downtown areas, while also encouraging economic development and historic preservation.
Joe Lanahan, Inman’s city administrator, said that 10 years ago, 70 percent of the buildings downtown were empty.
That has drastically changed. There are about 55 buildings within Inman’s central business district, and currently less than half a dozen of the buildings downtown aren’t being used.
In 2020, the city created a master plan for downtown. Some of the main goals were to increase special events, fill more empty buildings downtown, improve downtown landscaping and greenspace and add more public facilities downtown.
Within the past two years, Lanahan said nine new businesses have opened within Inman’s central business district, which is the most growth the city has seen in the past decade.
“Every six months or so, you kind of feel a different wave of things coming downtown,” Lanahan said. “We’re trying to be better hosts when it comes to introducing people and showing people that the sidewalks aren’t going to roll up at five o’clock.”
The city will start the Main Street America Coordinating Program in January 2023.
The program will give the city a marketing strategy so that it can fill the rest of its downtown buildings. Existing businesses in the area will receive help so that they can be a part of the city’s revitalization plan. The city will work to create various strategies on how to promote its street festivals, parades and retail events in order to encourage customer traffic.
There will also be a focus on the design of downtown. The city will look at ways to make downtown more attractive through signage, lighting, landscaping, street furniture and rehabilitating historic buildings.
“We believe that building on the success of our master plan, Main Street is one of the best avenues for us to help continue that growth and progress,” said April Gibson, the city’s planning director. “Our master plan is kind of our map, Main Street is our directions and all the things that are happening are our destinations.”
The City of Inman was recently accepted into a downtown revitalization program that will give the city the tools and knowledge to revitalize downtown areas while encouraging economic development and historic preservation. Inman also received a 2022 Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Vibrancy Grant for an interactive scavenger hunt that will be introduced to the community in summer 2023. Asia Rollins/staff
Lanahan said that Inman will soon have a restaurant downtown. In spring 2023, Holliday Brewing is opening a second location in Inman on 12 Prospect St., and the new Inman Library is having a grand opening on Dec. 1. Next year the city is planning to build a pavilion and restroom downtown on Mill Street.
Inman was also the recipient of a 2022 Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Vibrancy Grant for its “I” Marks the Spot Scavenger Hunt. The $5,000 grant provides initial funding support for community vibrancy initiatives across the Upstate.
The city plans to introduce the scavenger hunt to the community next year during a day of Music on Mill, a downtown summer concert series that takes place every Friday night in June.
Some details about the design, implementation and advertising of the scavenger hunt are still being worked on.
The interactive scavenger hunt will take place in downtown Inman and consists of a combination of bronze peach place markers and vanishing paint so that people can learn about current places and the history of the city.
Participants uncover the invisible clue markers with water. Before starting the scavenger hunt, people can pick up a water bottle from City Hall, the library or the fire department.
An app-based system will give participants a starting point. The app will recognize where they are, and then they have to start. When participants find a clue, they’ll spray it with water. The clue might be a number, word or phrase that participants will put into the system as a way to check off the location.
“The beauty of it is that it’s very flexible, and it can change year to year or season to season,” he said. “If we do a QR code, we can turn off certain clues and turn on certain clues.”
Initially, the interactive scavenger hunt will focus on some of the historical parts of downtown Inman and the city as a whole — such as the six families in Inman who were historically known for their peach production, an old blacksmith shop that shoed horses in the city until the 1980s and the history of the Chapman family.
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