Lynchburg, VA - "By the time people get to this side of town or the street, they're in exit mode" said Downtown Lynchburg promoter, Tony Camm Monday night about the trouble he sees with businesses succeeding in that area.
It's a story that got a lot of you talking on our website and calling into the newsroom.
Tuesday the City Manager spoke out, saying downtown is already in an upward swing.
Payne says downtown is a success story when you compare it to a decade ago. Businesses come and go no matter where they're located. Payne says while downtown may have one or two closures a year, the bigger picture points to a place growing and improving every day.
Payne has seen the downtown of his city come so far, "There are a number of activities now that didn't occur ten years ago" he said.
Payne says Downtown Lynchburg went through years of struggle. A walk through the streets in the 1980s would've looked very different than it does today.
"Everything from First Fridays to the restaurants that are open and other activities" said Payne.
And he says with more than $1 million invested in its revitalization each year for the last decade, it should be no surprise that it's on the upswing.
"We've seen the value of property downtown go up somewhere between $75 and $100 million. With the public investment, we've seen private people coming in and investing in these buildings" said Payne.
One prime example is the hundreds of newly renovated loft apartments. A private developer takes over a derelict downtown building, and making it into beautiful, state of the art living space.
Another thriving downtown success story is the area's relatively ravenous restaurant scene.
"Business downtown has just been incredible" said Rodney Taylor.
Taylor has owned and operated Market at Main since 2010. It's a successful eatery located in a renovated 19th Century drugstore, situated right in the center of Main Street.
He joins now a cohort of several not only surviving, but thriving downtown restaurants, "Downtown's on a huge upswing. The difference in the last three years is just phenomenal, especially on Saturday morning. Saturday mornings used to be kind of slow downtown, now Saturday is the busiest day downtown" said Taylor.
Payne says while a lot of people work and leave downtown at 5 p.m., slowly that trend is reversing, and with the development of literally hundreds of new housing options downtown, folks are choosing to live and stay there instead.