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Sprucing up Main Street

Mar 8, 2011 8:57:00 PM - thestate.com
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin has tied his political future to the success or failure of the city’s downtown, announcing Tuesday his term in office would be a failure if Main Street is not revitalized within two years.

Benjamin’s comments came during a news conference announcing that if downtown businesses invest in making their buildings look better, the city will pay 80 percent of the bill, up to $20,000. The offer applies only to the downtown Business Improvement District, bordered by Elmwood Avenue and Assembly, Gervais and Marion streets.

“Revitalization of Main Street is quite frankly a core tenant of how we will determine if we’ve been successful as city leaders,” Benjamin said. “If we are not able to have revitalized Main Street, then we will have failed.”

Benjamin joined City Councilman Brian Newman, whose district includes Main Street, and David Lockwood and Matt Kennell, the respective chairman and CEO of the City Center Partnership, for a Tuesday morning news conference at the Tapp’s building on Main Street.

Their message was optimistic, heralding the pending additions of Mast General Store at the corner of Washington and Main streets and the relocation of the Nickelodeon Theatre to the former Fox Theater next door.