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Three downtown businesses celebrate recent expansions

A fourth is renovating a building to add space and should be ready next spring


Editor's note: Between 2017 and 2021, there was a 21% increase in the value of real property downtown, according to Bianca Shoneman, president and CEO of the Cool Spring Downtown District. This story has been updated to correct the percentage.  

Three businesses and a public charter school have recently expanded or are preparing to expand in the downtown Fayetteville area.

They include Holmes Security Systems, City Center Gallery & Books, the Downtown Market of Fayetteville and the Capitol Encore Academy.

Holmes Security, which was founded 114 years ago, and the Capitol Encore Academy, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school that opened in 2014 and is expanding into a building on Mason Street, held ribbon-cuttings Thursday.

The Downtown Market was scheduled to hold a grand reopening ribbon-cutting Saturday at its new location on Blount Street.

“Yesterday, we had the distinct pleasure of holding two ribbon-cuttings on two projects,” Bianca Shoneman, the president and CEO of the Cool Spring Downtown District, said referring to Thursday’s events.

Overall, more than 200 businesses and attractions can be found in what Shoneman calls “the downtown fabric.” Her job is to promote the benefits of shopping and dining downtown and experiencing the other benefits of the core of the city.

“Well, beyond being an authentic shopping experience, the business owners in downtown Fayetteville are Fayetteville residents,” she said Friday. “And they keep their dollars circulating in the local economy. When you shop locally, the majority of those dollars stay locally.”

By shopping downtown, she said, “You can provide a local economic stimulus, you get that authentic business shopping experience, less impact on climate change, create jobs and you get customer service.”

Toward the end of May, Holmes Security Systems moved to a larger location at 407 Ray Ave. for expansion reasons. 

"The new building started out as a little renovation," prominent co-owner Stephen Wheeler said during Thursday's open house. "Next thing you know, we gutted the whole building. This new home is an investment in the community. We are really proud of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. We are proud of our facility."

The business, always a family-owned operation, has changed over the years to meet the needs of the community. Oliver Wendell Holmes established the family business in 1908 when he returned to Fayetteville to install the trolley lines along Hay Street, according to the store's website. After seeing the potential in the city, he decided to open an electrical contracting business.

Holmes Electric was established.

Based on the website, Holmes later opened the retail side of Holmes in the early 1900s, selling electrical supplies and appliances. The hardware and housewares area of the store in the early years eventually evolved into the gift and accessories division, which closed in 2014 to expand the security division.

For years, the Wheelers had been on the lookout for property for a new home for the business office.

“They had been tapped out for years on the 100 block of Hay Street,” Holmes marketing director Lynnie Guzman said. “Downtown has become multiple areas. We’re in area 2. We’re still considered downtown. It was important to the family that they stay close to where they started.

“The space is huge now. He wanted to make an investment in the community for the future,” Guzman said of Wheeler.

With the move to Ray Avenue, the business expands from 12,000 square feet to more than 20,000 square feet.

City Center Gallery & Books

The need to expand is also behind the renovations taking place at City Center Gallery & Books at 112 Hay St. Hank and Diane Parfitt purchased the long-vacant building that adjoins their store to expand their business.

The Parfitts opened the quaint downtown used bookshop in 2003.

Once the couple opens the additional space, Hank Parfitt said, City Center will increase in size from 1,200 square feet to 2,200 square feet.

The new property, which appears to have always been a jewelry store, dates to 1886, according to Parfitt. It still has its original stamped tin ceiling from its earliest days.

Parfitt said once the renovation is completed – which he is hoping will be in the spring of 2023 – customers can go back and forth through a shared opening between the linked buildings.

Older residents may remember it was the location for Horne’s Jewelers, Eggleston Jewelers and Henebry’s Jewelers.

“It makes it difficult to have an audience hear an author talk about his books,” Parfitt said of the current lack of space in the bookstore. “There will be an open floor plan. We’ll have all the bookcases on the sides, on the wall. Art will be displayed better. The idea is we’ll have much better display places. We’ll display local and original art, which we love to sell.”

The expansion also will allow for more room for special events. There will be more opportunities for poetry slams and for artists to come in and work with children. Book clubs can meet there, he said.

“It’s an opportunity for our customers to come and enjoy activities, books and art,” Parfitt said. “It will allow us to have more inventory. We’re very eclectic. Whatever the human mind can imagine, that’s literature.”

Capitol Encore Academy

The Hay Street school is expanding to 200 Mason St., where its ribbon-cutting was held Thursday. This will be the academy’s second expansion in downtown Fayetteville.

"We had a ribbon-cutting. I know a lot of people were out of town on vacation, but we did want to take a moment to mark the occasion," school Director Gerard Falls said.

The school utilizes what it calls an arts integration approach to education.

In addition to the building, the school’s trustees acquired an adjoining vacant lot to expand the institution’s education portfolio from K-8 to K-12. Terms of the sale were not disclosed, according to a news release.

As a result, the two buildings that house the school on Hay Street will become home to the kindergarten through eighth grade; the building on Mason Street will be dedicated to the high school, Shoneman said.

Once school opens for the academy on Aug. 30, the Capitol Encore Academy will increase its education portfolio from kindergarten through 10th grade. The following year, Falls said, it will expand from kindergarten through 12th grade.

This coming school term, the seventh- through 10th-grade students will move into the Mason Street building.

Falls said it's about a three-minute walk between the two locations.

“The building (on Mason Street), originally built in 1968 and renovated in 2010, has three stories, 67 parking spaces and 30,000 square feet,” the Cool Spring Downtown District release said. “The first two floors of the building will hold the regular academic classrooms, officers, cafeteria and conference rooms. The third floor will host the art classrooms and the high school theater space.’’

"I'm very excited. I started there in 2015," said the 37-year-old Falls. "I had just gotten through teaching in Clinton at Sampson Middle School. I wanted to get in a charter school. I was the first sixth-grade middle school teacher there. I've grown with the school.

"This has been a big project, building a middle school first and now a high school," Falls said. "It has been a lot of people who have come together and made it happen."

The academy had less than 400 students when it opened eight years ago, he said.

 "This coming year, we'll have approximately 730 students. It's been a big journey."

"So our charter has always been to grow into a K-12 school," Falls said. "The goal was to have the expansion complete by 2024. When we started out as K-5, we always knew we would need more space. Now that's come to full fruition."

The Downtown Market

About four years ago, Johanna Brumm moved the Downtown Market of Fayetteville from The Shops at 123 Hay St. to a larger location at 122 Anderson St. She had operated from the Hay Street shops for roughly 1 1/2 years.

On July 1, the store underwent its second expansion and is now open at 325 Blount St.

“I more than doubled my space here,” the 34-year-old Brumm said.

“We’ve added new products, bath lines, local products. We have an antique room and holiday room with Christmas stuff year-round. We’ve expanded our merchandise and our clothing merchandise. We’re doing more weddings and expanded our flowers.”

Brumm said she will continue with her classes at the store. They include courses on flower crowns, painting and grazing boards. Her business caters grazing tables at weddings, baby showers and other floral events.

“It’s been fine so far,” she said of her new location. “We’ve got our own parking lot here. It’s easy for people to park and come and go. I love it. It’s good. I love all the space. It gives me more space to do things that I like. Classes, I’ve always liked.”

Shoneman said the downtown area is attracting new businesses, such as the Peace of Mind Oxygen Lounge at 429 Person St., the sandwich shop Pan which opened in early June at 105 Hay St., and what is being called Fayetteville's first fully vegan restaurant — the Vibe Gastropub — at 131 Hay St.

Mary and Robert Russell, the owners of the popular mobile food truck R Burger that serves specialty burgers, plan to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant called R Kitchen at 1006 Person St. later this month. Also, Gaston Brewing Co. has opened a second location, with this one a taproom and brewery, at 421 Chicago Drive.

"So the city adopted a unified downtown master plan a few years ago," Shoneman said. "In that master plan, it calls for expansion beyond Hay and Person streets. The academy is moving to Mason Street. That area could use an infusion of cash. It's really nice to see existing, well-established businesses making investments. Those corridors will be expanded corridors."

She called the expansion of the three businesses and academy part of the ongoing growth and development of the downtown area.

"We recently tracked the downtown district," said Shoneman. "Between 2017 and 2021, there was a 21% increase in the value of real property downtown." 

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, downtown, Holmes Security Systems, City Center Gallery & Books, Downtown Market of Fayetteville, The Capitol Encore Academy, Cool Spring Downtown District