Leasing has started for office suites at the new 151 Main building as construction nears completion, and two new businesses are expected to open downtown soon.
Stan Rogers of Highridge Partners, which is constructing the three-story Class A 151 Main building on West Main Street, said the building will open in January with his company's move to the top-floor office. Rogers said he hopes to have tenants for the other two floors moved in by early spring.
"We have gotten a lot of interest, mainly from attorneys," he said about the prospects for the building. The building has 24,000 square feet of space for professional office suites.
"I hope what we are doing will be a springboard for others," Rogers said. "When the county government left, it left a vacuum. We just need people to come to downtown Canton."
Ginger Garrard, Main Street program coordinator for the city, said a pair of new businesses - Fabiano's, an Italian restaurant in the old Cafe 190 location, and Bleu Dame, an accessories boutique next door to Key's Jewelry - should open soon.
Jeff Merbank, owner of Fabiano's, said the business, which will include a family pizzeria on the bottom floor and a tavern upstairs, will be open within four weeks. It is the third Fabiano's he has opened in an historic downtown area.
"People are starting to rediscover them," he said of downtown areas, noting many people in the South grew up in them, but they were forgotten with the advent of shopping centers in the 1980s and 1990s.
Along with business openings downtown in the past year like of the Art 101 Gallery on West Main Street, the Store at Grant Design on East Marietta Street and The Worship Studio art gallery on Brown Street, there also have been closings.
Vantage Point Studios and Fringe Artful Goods both have closed, Ms. Garrard said. Katherine Cressler, owner of Fringe, said the economy forced her to drop the store, which sold artwork and gifts, and focus on Old Towne Diner, the downtown restaurant she co-owns.
Ms. Garrard said the city government and merchants are working together to energize the downtown district.
On Saturday, there will be candlelight shopping with downtown merchants remaining open until 9 p.m. on those nights. Dickens-inspired carolers will walk the streets downtown to serenade shoppers.
A Winter Wonderland Window contest has been established to encourage shopping downtown. A display of gifts has been set up in the window of 131 West Main Street between Chamberhouse and Goin' Coastal. For every $25 a shopper spends at a participating downtown business, they will receive an entry form to fill out for the chance to win all the gifts in the display. The drawing will be held on Dec. 19.
"We are having more events downtown and exposing it to more people," she said. "People know we are having events, so they are coming back."
John Curving owns the vacant lot next to Downtown Kitchen on East Marietta Street, which he plans to develop. He said they have obtained a building permit and impact fees have been paid, but the project is on the back burner for the time being.
"We are going to hold on until the economy changes," he said. "Lending is hard to come by right now."
Doug Flint, who co-owns a Canton-based real estate rehabilitation and management company, is managing the former Jones building/administration building for the Cherokee County government until the firm's purchase of it closes next summer. He said he is actively recruiting tenants for the building, which is on the square between North and Main Streets, and can be subdivided in "countless" ways.
The firm also recently acquired the building at 170 North St. The former florist shop is being renovated for use as office space, a retail shop or restaurant.