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Downtown Fountain Inn

Downtown Fountain Inn is a turnaround success storyMany small towns and suburbs have struggled to keep their central business districts alive in the 21st century. And just a little over a decade ago that was the case with Fountain Inn. But an ambitious revitalization project put into place in 2006 has turned what used to be a greater-than-50-percent vacancy rate into a 90-95 percent occupancy rate.

Today, whether you are looking for a stroll or festival in Commerce Park, a great restaurant dinner, a busy board meeting or a seasonal celebration, you will find plenty to see and do in downtown Fountain Inn.

The key to the turnaround was a master plan developed 10 years ago by the city government in cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Transportation. As its No. 1 goal, the plan called for a Streetscape Beautification Project to draw young professionals and families back to Main Street. Sidewalks were widened. The city added landscaping, intersection poles, increased parking and curb cut-outs. Crews were busy updating the sewers, storm drains and irrigation systems.

And that worked.

One key change was the conversion of the former Fountain Inn High School building into the Younts Center for Performing Arts, with a 418-seat auditorium. The Younts Center brings people from all over the region into the downtown to see Broadway-themed plays, musical guest artists, the Fountain Inn Symphony Orchestra and the Fountain Inn Chorale. Community recitals, pageants and weddings also are held there.

The downtown offers nine sit-down restaurants and the city as a whole has 12 fast-food places, too. The latest is an ice cream shop – called, appropriately, the Ice Cream Fountain – opening in summer 2017. A McDonald’s opened in February 2017, joining two Bojangle’s fried chicken eateries.

Among the top downtown dining stops are:

J Peters Bar and Grill. This downtown grill gets high marks from guests and is praised for its convenient downtown location.

Sweet Catherine’s is the place you want to be if you’re looking for a quick lunch in a quaint and cute environment.

Cucina 100 allows patrons to taste and sample the best Italian fare this side of Europe.

The Growler Haus is the city’s first craft-beer store, with more than 30 brands on tap. Negotiations are underway that may bring a microbrewery to a retail storefront that recently became available.

QuikTrip, a gas station/convenience store along Harrison Bridge Road, sells so much prepared food that according to its hospitality tax receipts, it’s the second-busiest “restaurant” in the area.

The Fountain Inn Museum, located in the heart of the downtown, draws people from the surrounding Greenville metro as well as visitors from Canada, Ireland, Germany and China, all curious to learn about the area’s history.

The downtown rebirth process has been so successful that the city won a Municipal Achievement Award, despite being one of the smallest municipalities in the competition’s 5,001-20,000 population category.

However, Fountain Inn’s business leaders are not content to rest on their laurels. A new master plan for the city’s future was approved by the city council in spring 2017 and will guide the town’s business district through another decade of improvement and growth.

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Town Square Publications