CLAYTON — Downtown has become more visually appealing over the past five years says the results of a recent photography assignment commissioned by the Clayton Downtown Development Association, Inc.
The “Picture Downtown Project” enlisted 34 volunteers of varying ages from throughout town, including business owners, government officials and Clayton High School students. Armed with a disposable camera, participants were tasked with taking nine photos apiece of over a three week period this past spring of the things they liked and disliked about downtown Clayton.
Their submissions were compared to ones taken in the spring of 2007, when the project was first initiated as part of the Main Street program.
What was named the biggest weakness in 2007 has now evolved into the area’s number one strength. According to the current study, the town’s new Horne Square, a revitalization of a former a municipal lot at Lombard and Main Streets, earned top honors from participants.
“Something had to be done over there, it wasn’t anything pleasant to the eye,” said Naegelen.
Other top design strengths in 2012 included the new Law Enforcement Center, Town Square and the recently constructed Mosaic Community Garden at 439 E. Main St. Also cited were the Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library, Coffee Mill, The Clayton Center and Southern Traditions House.
The former Red & White Grocery building, 110 W. Front St., was identified as downtown’s number one design challenge. It ranked third in 2007.
La Michoacana grocery, the former Pittman Jewelers building and Clayton Mart were also noted as dislikes.
Three properties, all on Main Street, were removed from the new list after making improvements by either freshening up with a new coat of paint or adding siding. They included 226 E. Main St., now Primo Pizza and Old Town Supply at 424 E. Main St.
“I think those buildings that had been neglected or properties that needed work, we’ve gotten quite a bit of those done,” Naegelen said. “It’s obvious that improvements have been made.”
He said several of those properties that were identified as challenges have been in discussions with the CDDA on ways to make improvements.
Participant Kelly Barnard learned about the project through a posting on Facebook. The stay-at-home mom was excited about the opportunity to give her input.
“Anytime the general public gets the chance to give their opinion directly to the board is awesome,” she said.
Barnard was most impressed with Town Square, an area she visits regularly with her two young children.
“We hang out there all the time,” Barnard said. “We like to park and walk down to the library and pick up books. On our way back we love to just sit there and read.”
“This project has been a great way to measure the visual improvements made in downtown over the past five years,” said Margaret Lee, Chair of the CDDA’s Design Committee. “It also confirms the work done by business and property owners with encouragement and guidance from the CDDA and the Town of Clayton.”