Looking UP in UPtown

24

UPtown Partnership (UP) did not allow COVID-19 to shut down its plans to form a new and spirited non-profit organization dedicated to creating a new vision for Martinsville’s business district that will delight and charm residents and visitors.

Although the group’s board of directors had to pivot because of safety precautions related to the pandemic, they forged ahead with strategic planning sessions, committee work and proposal writing via virtual platforms. As things begin to re-open, UP President Lee Prillaman expects the group to be even busier collaborating with business and property owners, residents, community organizations and local officials to drive revitalization in the UPtown district.

Board members agreed that the name UPtown Partnership was appropriate for the group because the goal was to bring together a diverse collection of stakeholders to move development projects forward in the business district.

“We recognize that there are a lot of great people who have been committed to doing this work for many years as well as tons of new community members who are excited to get involved. To make UPtown what we all hope it to be, we have to work in partnership,” said Natalie Hodge, resident of UPtown and Vice President of UP.

The first undertaking for the newly formed organization, which demonstrated a high degree of collaboration, was completing the application process for Virginia Main Street designation. The application, which was submitted during the statewide shutdown, had proposal sections
contributed by representatives from the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Martinsville, about 15 local business and property owners and several UPtown residents.

UP will hear back from Virginia Main Street regarding their designation soon. In the meantime, they have been busy working on several design and community engagement projects. The first community engagement project was held Thursday, July 30.

The “UPtown Vision Walk” allowed community members, local officials and UPtown business and property owners to tour sections of the business district to discuss their vision for the future of UPtown. Small tour groups departed by foot from the UPtown municipal parking lot across from the post office. Note takers collected feedback from group members as the tours progressed through the city’s streets. These notes will be used to refine UP’s strategic plan. Directly following the walking tours, participants had the option to meet at the Jefferson Plaza patio area to enjoy refreshments from Hugo’s or La Plazita.

“There are a lot of new projects you will be hearing about through the end of the year. Big ones and smaller. We are working to bring back the charm of UPtown and turn it into an exciting gathering place for our region,” said Prillaman, who is also the owner of the Holt building at 1 E. Church Street.
UP Promotions Committee member Wayne Draper has nicknamed the event “Up and at ‘em!” Wayne is more than just an enthusiastic organizer, he also has two exciting building projects underway in UPtown – one on the corner of Fayette and Market and the other in Rucker Plaza on Church Street. He is looking forward to locking arms with other community members who are invested in taking UPtown to the next level.
Community members interested in participating finding out how to get involved with UP can contact the group at UPMartinsville@gmail.com or visit their website www.UPMartinsville.com. You can also follow their journey to transform UPtown on Facebook and Instagram – @UPMartinsville.
For more information, contact Prillaman at 817-992-9084 or leelandprillaman@gmail.com.