Mount Airy officially will welcome a recently revamped facility to its list of public spaces Thursday afternoon when a grand reopening is planned for Canteen Alley.
Canteen Alley is located toward the lower end of North Main Street in Mount Airy where a restored Coca-Cola mural was dedicated last summer. Plans were announced shortly after for an alleyway-improvement project to include a stage for musical performances, seating and other enhancements designed to provide a pleasant community gathering place.
And Thursday that effort, involving a partnership between the groups Mount Airy Downtown Inc. and Mount Airy Professionals of Surry (MAPS), will culminate with an event scheduled to begin at Canteen Alley at 3 p.m.
It is expected to include representatives of those organizations, city officials and others who will celebrate the addition of another venue for which one of the goals is encouraging more night-life activity and commerce in the central business district.
“It’s great to have another place for people to sit and enjoy downtown,” Jennie Lowry, a longtime official of the Downtown Business Association, said Tuesday regarding what the new venue means to the area.
“People hopefully will stay longer or stay until the evening and enjoy more of the downtown,” Lowry added of the desired effect on visitors from the improved alleyway that boasts granite and walkway enhancements, benches, planters and other amenities.
To highlight the performance aspect of the newly renovated facility, musicians are invited to bring their instruments Thursday and be part of the first official jam session in Canteen Alley as part of its grand reopening event.
The revitalization project, which has a price tag of about $41,000, was largely funded by a $20,000 grant from the North Carolina Rural Center to Mount Airy Professionals of Surry, which includes younger local residents.
It also involved Municipal Service District tax proceeds levied in the central business district which are administered by Mount Airy Downtown, as well as municipal funds.
The project largely was a community effort that in addition to the two partnering organizations encompassed various city departments such as planning, public works and parks and recreation, according to information from Mount Airy Downtown Inc.
Among others credited for its success are architect Tom Starbuck; Chazz Elstone, a musician and sculptor, along with other local artists; North Carolina Granite Corp.; N.C. State Shelton Scholar students; and the Coca-Cola Bottling Co., whose restoration of the historic Coke mural in the alleyway sparked the further revitalization efforts.
Canteen Alley gets its name from a business by that name which was located in the space from 1934 to 1987, before being torn down. The city government bought the property to provide a passageway between North Main Street and the municipal parking lot on Franklin Street.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.