LAURINBURG, N.C. (WBTW) — A restaurant is set to open in a newly-renovated building in downtown Laurinburg, one of several projects underway in the city.

“It was falling in. This building was very very old,” Laurinburg Mayor Jim Willis said. “It had been a hardware store through its whole history and it had been vacant for several years.”

Thanks to investments worth more than $300,000 from the city and the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation, the building had its roof replaced and is being filled with tables, chairs and a kitchen staff to become the Railroad Bar and Grill.

“COVID put a dent in it,” Willis said. “The EDC acquired it in May of 2019, and it’s sort of started and stopped, started and stopped.”

Willis said the restaurant is almost ready to open, with only a week or two remaining to put on the finishing touches.

“It’s nice to have other things but restaurants and bars are the key to drawing traffic downtown,” Willis said.

The city has purchased several other buildings with plans to find tenants after this project is completed. A walkway was cleared out of one structure to connect Main Street to a nearby park. The new developments have been a major draw for some business owners.

“I’ve actually taken photos over there,” Michael Gholson, co-owner of Serenity Storm Boutique and Photography said of the walkway. “I love it, I’ve actually got a shoot over there today.”

Gholson said he and his wife just opened their business a month ago and are excited to be part of the downtown revitalization.

“Laurinburg needs to come up,” Gholson said. “We could have gone anywhere else to set up but with Laurinburg, our heart is here.”

“You can’t have any thriving municipality, I believe, without having a very vibrant, historic downtown,” Willis said.