Mayor Collins hopeful of youth movement
Summerville is in the early stages of a plan to attract more young people into the area.
Mayor Bill Collins calls it his ‘master plan’ and it is a 12-15-year plan to increase the amount of 20-34-year-olds in town.
The plan has started with new restaurants. Newk’s Eatery, known for sandwiches and salads, recently opened in Azalea Square. Newk’s was founded in Oxford, Miss. and is a fixture in many college towns across the South. Smashburger, a fast-order burger establishment from Denver will also open in Azalea Square.
It is not just places to eat that are the goal, but the mayor hopes to keep the residents in town after dinnertime.
“We want to make sure that we have things for young people to do at night where they don’t have to leave town,” said Collins.
That starts with Mellow Mushroom, an Atlanta-based pizza chain that is under construction on Main St. and will open later this year. “Mellow” as many patrons shorthand it, has an extensive beer menu and is also a staple of many college towns.
Carolina Ale House will also open on Main St., in front of Nexton. It will feature big-screen televisions and a variety of beers on tap and in bottle.
The city is doing a 9-month study that will have a road map in place for 10-15 years from now to have more parks, bike paths and sidewalks.
“Young people like to be able to walk places,” he said. “We want to build opportunities for them to do so.”
The plan calls for new cottages and apartments to be built to accommodate the growing community. Collins said that one of the keys to getting the demographic to Summerville is by providing new up-and-coming jobs.
“I would really like to see some new tech jobs,” he said. “It would be big if we are able to get some high paying high-tech jobs here in Summerville.”
According to the most recent census, 20.5 percent of Summerville is between 20-34, 0.5 percent above the state’s average. Collins said that the study will give the city a guide of what will need to be done to raise the percentage.
“We want to make decisions off that guide and we need the community to buy in,” Collins said. “We need a good balance between young folks and old folks. The town’s future rests with young people.”