The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

September 20, 2013

Albemarle Downtown organization oversees many festivities

By Erica Benjamin

Friday, September 20, 2013 — The decades following World War II brought about a wave of renewal which led to the demolition of many old structures. New was equal to better. The city of Albemarle was no exception to this trend.

It was not until the 1980s when interest in preserving the old downtown surfaced. People saw themselves as part of a community that wanted to retain some of the old without hindering progress and offered to help through volunteering.

This renewed interest in preserving historic structures, however, would once again wane, only to be followed by another rise. Without a concentrated effort of an organized committee to lead the preservation efforts, some thought this cycle would continue.

In 1989, in response to the decline of downtown Albemarle, the city council established a revitalization program which would become Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation (ADDC).

A year later, Vicki Coggins would be named executive director. With the support of concerned citizens as well as businesses, downtown Albemarle would begin to undergo a transformation.

More than 20 years later, the ADDC continues to promote business development, beautification and downtown revitalization in the city of Albemarle.

The ADDC is a stand-alone 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with two full-time employees, the executive director, which was Kathy Almond, and administrative assistant Victoria Sites.

Almond is only the second executive director of the organization, following Coggins who retired in 2010 after more than 20 years of service. A board of directors, which is appointed by Albemarle City Council, governs the organization.

As a nonprofit, the ADDC relies heavily on community support for funding.

“We have three primary sources of revenue. An annual allocation from the city of Albemarle, a municipal service tax allocation and fundraisers,” Almond said.

“It takes all of that to operate, in conjunction with individual and business sponsorships to supplement the budget.”

Many of the recognizable sites in downtown Albemarle came as a result of the ADDC.

Courthouse Square Park, which was completed in 1996, was the first project of significant size to be completed by the ADDC. Today, the ADDC manages the park in conjunction with the city of Albemarle.

Park rentals, for example, are done through the organization. The city Public Works Department is instrumental in maintaining the grounds and property of the park as well as another of the ADDC’s projects —Liberty Gardens.

Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the ADDC responded to a call from Keep America Beautiful, Inc. to join them in creating a place of beauty to honor the memories of those who lost their lives on that day.

A special committee was organized to develop a memorial park in downtown Albemarle and brick pavers were sold to the public for anyone wishing to honor or memorialize a loved one.

The garden features benches, lamp posts and three sections designated for military veterans, law enforcement and EMS personnel.

Both Courthouse Square Park and Liberty Gardens are available for rent through the ADDC. The city Public Works and Public Utilities departments assist in operation and maintenance in an ongoing partnership with ADDC.

Another of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, Market Station, also began as a project of the ADDC. The open air pavilion has been used for everything from wedding and anniversary rentals, to high school proms and business gatherings.

During the growing season it houses the local Stanly County farmer’s market. Market Station is also the site for Thursdays at the Station, a free summer concert series hosted by Albemarle Parks & Recreation.

“Market Station is a beautiful addition to the city. The thousands of people it brings in every year are an asset to the city,” Almond said.

The ADDC is also involved in many community events, including the Fall Festival, Stanly County Winter Wine Festival, Outdoorsman’s Bonanza, Holiday Tour of Homes, An Albemarle Downtown Christmas and Albemarle Christmas Parade.

The Winter Wine Festival and Outdoorsman’s Bonanza, Almond said, are two of the ADDC’s biggest fundraisers, bringing in many visitors from outside the county. Funds raised through the Holiday Tour of Homes are used to create the 50 hanging baskets which are placed in downtown Albemarle during the summer.

The city Public Works Department waters the baskets and hangs the lights on the trees along Main, First and Second streets. The city Public Utilities Department hangs seasonal pole banners, lighted snowflakes and places Christmas Angels in the downtown.

“Our partnership with city departments is really important,” Almond said, adding that the ADDC also works in conjunction with Albemarle Downtown Business Association to host the Albemarle Downtown Christmas event.

Collaboration with the city departments, local businesses and other organizations is imperative to the success of everyone involved. It builds a stronger more vibrant community, she said.

The ADDC plans to continue working toward enhancing the appeal of the city in the years to come.

“We’ve got a beautiful city that we want to maintain. I would like to see it continue to be a hub of activity,” Almond said.

The ADDC is at 144 N. Second St., Albemarle. To learn more about the ADDC, call (704) 984-9415. Additional information can be found on the web at www.albe or on the ADDC and Farmer’s Market Facebook pages. The ADDC may also be followed on Twitter.

Erica Benjamin is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.