Downtown vision sessions planned

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A series of public input sessions later this month will give folks the opportunity to weigh in on a plan for downtown Suffolk.

The Downtown Initiatives Plan is under way, and Benchmark Planning is the consulting firm leading the initiative. The plan will examine existing conditions, previous studies and the progress made from them and market potential. The result should be a framework for the future downtown.

This will be the second iteration of the Downtown Initiatives Plan. Many projects identified in the 1998 plan, such as a hotel and conference center and the revitalization of the former courthouse building to become the Suffolk Visitor Center, have now been completed.

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“What came out of the last one was things like the (Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts),” Planning Director David Hainley said. Some folks at the meetings said, “We’d like to transform the school (the former Suffolk High School) into an arts center,” Hainley said. “That was one of the results.”

Hainley said this plan will concentrate on the core commercial area. He hopes multiple people will come out and share their vision for downtown.

“It’s better to get citizens’ input who have lived here a long time about the way they would like to see downtown stay and the way they would like to see it change, versus planners,” Hainley said. “A planner’s vision is not 20/20. The more people who provide ideas and concepts and thoughts, the better this plan is going to be.”

Hainley expects many people will come to the meetings suggesting a downtown grocery store, and outside dining is something not currently located on Main Street that some may like to see.

Hainley wasn’t sure how many people to expect for the meetings.

“It could be a couple; it could be a whole crowd,” he said. “It all depends on what people’s interest is in seeing the historic downtown area thrive again.”

Sessions will be held June 26-29 at 120 N. Main St. An opening presentation will be held at 7 p.m. June 26. The remainder of the schedule is as follows:

Afternoon drop-in times:

  • June 27, 28 and 29 — 1 to 5 p.m.
  • June 26 — Opening session, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • June 27-28 — Design pin-up, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • June 29 — Closing session, 6 to 8 p.m.

For more information, call 514-4060, email, or visit or