Cafe Inspires Development in North Charleston
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Back in its heyday, Reynolds Avenue in North Charleston was a hotspot for shopping, dining, and Sunday strolling; however, its hard to believe the now broken and worn down community once thrived. In the mid 1990’s many people moved out of the area because of the closing of the Naval Base, which caused incredible job loss. As a result, the businesses on Reynolds Avenue were forced to shut down because customers stopped coming. Many shops were left vacant and unmaintained where they now sit covered with graffiti, broken glass, and dust.
Some clean up efforts were made over the years. Bill Murray and Charleston River Dogs co-owner Mike Veeck bought two buildings on Reynolds Avenue where they planned to urbanize the area with contemporary apartments. However, these plans fell through. Also, Reverend Bill Stanfield, the owner of the community development nonprofit organization Metanoia, has worked to revive the street. His efforts have finally paid off as he recently opened a cafe called The Macon in a building that is also home to a youth entrepreneur center and a dormitory for volunteers working on local improvement projects. Locals are hopeful that this business will encourage the redevelopment of the area and benefit the people who live there.
The owner of the building that is now The Macon gave the space to the Metanoia for free. However, when Stanfield walked into the the building for the first time he could see the blue sky through a gaping hole in the roof, interior walls were crumbling down, and the floor was cracked and warped. Rather than being discouraged, the Metanoia volunteers got to work cleaning and repairing their diamond in the rough.
The Macon only has to pay 1$ to rent the space, as long as they only hire neighborhood residents in need of jobs. For many of the employees, the cafe is an ideal job because it is within walking distance from their homes and they do not have to worry about spending money on gas or bus fare for commute to work. Since The Macon is located on Reynolds Avenue, near Rivers, the cafe is hopeful that they will attract customers from the bustling street for breakfast and lunch.
Reynolds Avenue is already starting to rebuild now that a shipping container transfer facility has opened at the end of the street. More jobs are becoming available for the residents of North Charleston and businesses are starting to open back up. Local community cleanup leaders and organizations are ready to bring life back to North Charleston and make their community safer and welcoming.