Downtown revival in Laurens sets example for others

Main Street Laurens hosts meeting to showcase renovations
The Bailey Building owners have invested more than $2 million to renovate the property
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 11:25 PM EDT
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LAURENS, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Nearly three dozen visitors with the Main Street South Carolina organization took a tour of town square on Thursday. A day-long meeting included a closer look at the ongoing renovations and what made them possible.

“We are able to demonstrate a lot of the best practices,” Jonathan Irick, executive director of Main Street Laurens, told Fox Carolina. “Our fellow Main Street managers...are here to see how they can take that back to their own communities.”

City leaders estimate that 2022 will end with more than $3 million of reinvestments in downtown Laurens

Irick said the growth trend that started in 2019 has continued to grow. He said in 2021, investments in downtown reached $2 million, and the number by the end of 2022 will exceed $3 million. The restoration of the Bailey Building alone amounted to $2.5 million, Irick said.

Irick said several renovation projects were eligible for various tax credit programs. Downtown Laurens is an Opportunity Zone, where investors can qualify for federal tax credits. Tax incentives are also available for the restoration of historic and abandoned properties. The Bailey Bill freezes property taxes at the pre-renovation rate for up to 10 years.

The old historic courthouse in town square is undergoing renovations

“It gives them time to recoup some of the (investment dollars),” Irick said. “So when those taxes are back at the current value of the encourages more development.”

Mayor Nathan Senn said he always welcomes the opportunity to reintroduce people to the city.

“What we’re so proud of is that we’re building on who Laurens is authentically,” Senn said. “This isn’t a developer’s vision a what a small town should be. The growth that we’re experiencing is homegrown.”