Podcast: New committee to guide Morgan Square redesign process
Morgan Square Redevelopment Committee to guide public input process, make recommendations on changes to square
At their last two meetings, Spartanburg City Council took a pair of actions to move discussions of Morgan Square's future forward, first creating a committee to guide a public input process and make recommendations regarding upgrades and then voting to continue to keep W Main Street along the square closed to traffic for the next 24 months while the committee undertakes its work.
The committee comprises 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, 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.
The decision to close W Main 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. Now the Morgan Square Redevelopment Committee will work with design professionals and the public to make recommendations to City Council regarding those changes.
Today on the podcast, we're discussing the committee's work and next steps for staff in the process to determine the future of Morgan Square. Listen below to learn more!