City Council votes to extend Morgan Square street closure for 24 months
Square to remain pedestrian-only while committee crafts recommendations for future changes
At their meeting last night, Spartanburg City Council voted unanimously to leave W Main Street along Morgan Square closed to vehicle traffic for 24 months while a committee works to create recommendations for physical changes to the space. The decision to close the street to traffic was first made in spring of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic drastically curtailed shopping and dining in Downtown Spartanburg, in an effort to encourage visitors to return and enjoy safer outdoor dining options.
The pedestrian-only space proved popular, with pedestrian counter data showing an increase in the number of visitors after most pandemic restrictions were lifted, with 13.1 percent more visits to Downtown Spartanburg coming during May and June of 2021 than during the same time period in 2019. A survey conducted by the City last year also showed that of 3,444 respondents, 55.24% favor keeping W Main Street closed to vehicle traffic indefinitely for expanded pedestrian use, 24.28% favor keeping W Main Street closed to vehicle traffic in front of the square on weekends (Friday-Sunday) for expanded pedestrian use and open to vehicle traffic on weekdays (Monday-Thursday), and 18.25% favor opening W Main Street in front of the square to vehicle traffic.
After receiving data and feedback demonstrating the fully pedestrianized space's positive effect on downtown visits, Council voted to keep the area closed to vehicles while staff crafted a process to examine potential permanent changes to Morgan Square to make the space more pedestrian-friendly. At their last meeting, Council set that process in motion, voting unanimously to create the Morgan Square Redevelopment Committee.
The committee is tasked with spearheading a robust public engagement process and will work with design professionals to draft recommendations on physical enhancements to Morgan Square. It is comprised of a diverse selection of city residents and stakeholders, including downtown restaurant and retail business owners, City planning board members, experts in local development and architecture, and community activists. In presenting the recommended list of committee members to Council last month, City Manager Chris Story said that in addition to a diversity of experience and background, the committee also includes a diversity of opinions about what should come next for Spartanburg's most prominent piece of public land. Story said that the committee's work will take 6-12 months.
For more from Monday's meeting, see the full video below.