The newly formed Uptown Partnership (UP) received a two-year $350,200 planning grant to support the organization’s development.
Uptown Partnership was established to drive the revitalization of Uptown Martinsville by creating a vibrant business district filled with high quality residential, entertainment and cultural spaces that meet the diverse needs of the greater Martinsville – Henry County region.
“Partnerships are key to a sustainable Uptown,” said Beverly Pitzer, community reinvestment act officer for Carter Bank & Trust and treasurer of Uptown Partnership. “We are adding fuel and energy to help us all succeed. We aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel. The area has had at least a half a dozen studies over the years that have all said that the success of the Martinsville – Henry County region depends on the success of Uptown. We have been working with the Chamber, the EDC, and the City in this first, truly unprecedented, year. We want to expand our partnerships regionally as success for one is success for all.”
UP is currently working towards becoming a Designated Virginia Main Street program which will allow the organization to have access to resources and funding at the state level. It also will hire an executive director that will assist volunteers in implementing the Main Street 4 Point Approach that focuses on organization, promotion, design and economic vitality.
Through a series of visioning sessions, the UP board has identified two thematic strategies that align with the National Main Street Approach: “Uptown Living” and “Hand-made; Craft-made & Artisan.”
“Uptown Living” aims to improve amenities and home furnishings that make living in Uptown attractive. One key to revitalization of districts like Uptown is to increase the number of people living directly in the district and in nearby areas. While there are several residential projects in the works that should make nearly 100 new housing units available in the next 18 months, filling them will require the creation of an attractive and pedestrian friendly atmosphere.
“Our goal is to increase the population of the Uptown district, including the surrounding residential neighborhoods from Five Points east to Starling, and Commonwealth south to Memorial, by at least 500 people in the next couple of years,” said Leutisha Galloway, an Uptown Partnership board member and director of the Fayette Area Historical Initiative. “Projects like the Chief Tassell and BB&T are big and obvious, but there are a lot of smaller investors putting in a couple units here and there. We want to support them in getting those built and filled.”
A focus on the “Hand-made; Craft-made & Artisan” approach means local makers specializing in food, art, furniture, jewelry, or beer will be welcomed and marketed to UP residents and visitors.
“Martinsville was built with the minds and hands of our parents and grandparents in our local factories. We have always created and now we want to rebuild our future as a place where people can come and create viable businesses with both their intellectual expertise and the sweat of their efforts,” explained Natalie Hodge, Vice President of Uptown Partnership.
“The Harvest foundation is focused on creating a vibrant Martinsville/Henry County,” said president, Kate Keller. “A thriving Uptown is central to the success of our region. We believe the Uptown Partnership is a diverse group of residents and business owners that can bring our shared vision to life.”
For more information about UP and its programs, visit www.martinsvilleup.com.