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Spartanburg council keeps block of West Main closed 2 more years

Spartanburg's West Main Street

A portion of West Main Street near Morgan Square in downtown Spartanburg has been closed to vehicle traffic since May 2020 to allow more space for outdoor dining and community activities. Chris Lavender/Staff

SPARTANBURG — A portion of West Main Street near Morgan Square that has been closed to vehicle traffic since May 2020 will remain closed for at least another two years.

City Council voted 7-0 on Aug. 8 to keep the street free of vehicle traffic to allow a committee formed July 25 to develop a recommendation on how the square could potentially be redesigned. The square is in close proximity to retailers and restaurants along West Main Street.

Kelly Blackwell, Two Doors Down Boutique co-owner, told The Post and Courier on Aug. 9 she disagreed with City Council's decision. The shop at 100 E. Main St. opened in October 2008. Blackwell said she understands why the street was initially closed to provide more outdoor space for restaurants during the pandemic, but said keeping it closed longer causes an impediment for traffic flow downtown.

"As a retailer, I don't like it being closed because it creates a disconnect," Blackwell said. "Keeping the street closed two more years doesn't make sense when you have got a committee working to figure out what to do with it."

The 13-member Morgan Square Redevelopment Committee is scheduled to host its first meeting Sept. 1. The committee consists of members from the restaurant, real estate, business and development industries. 

Spartanburg resident Garland Hough said Aug. 9 she hopes the portion of West Main Street stays permanently closed to vehicles beyond 2024. She has enjoyed spending time with her children downtown and dining outdoors with family and friends.

"Since it's has been closed, it's given Spartanburg a new vibe," Hough said. "We love it."

In July 2021, Burgar restaurant opened at 137 W. Main St. Owner Hugo Montanez said he supports keeping the street closed to vehicle traffic. He waited until after City Council voted in August 2021 to keep the street closed to buy tables and chairs for outdoor dining.

"Sales have increased this year from last year," Montanez said. "I think it's a good idea to keep the street closed (to vehicles) for another two years as they work to redesign Morgan Square. We are doing pretty well on improving it as a destination."

Several City Council members, including Meghan Smith, said they would have preferred to vote on a resolution Aug. 8 to permanently close the portion of West Main Street to vehicle traffic.

Others, including Mayor Jerome Rice, said they hoped the committee would provide recommendations on how to redesign the square before the temporary street closure is reconsidered in 2024.

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Follow Chris Lavender on Twitter @spartanburgpc

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