In the early 1970s, the primary business function of downtown moved out to the thoroughfares, as was typical for cities similar to Gastonia throughout the United States. Remaining were government buildings, banks, churches, and a small number of shop owners not yet ready to move to the new strip shopping centers.
Today, Main Avenue offers a part of the past architectural fabric and history with many opportunities for rehabilitation projects. The City has made a major investment of $6.3 million dollars by renovating the 1911 Gaston County Courthouse, which now houses the James B. Garland Municipal Business Center, a one-stop government service facility. Gaston County has undertaken the renovation of the former BB&T Banking Center (formally the Belk Department Store) with a like investment for the purpose of housing the County Administration Offices. Private investment is currently underway with a number of properties in the process of being renovated and many properties are available for sale.
In support of the center city, housing the City Council established the York Chester Historic District in 1988 and the Brookwood District in 1996. Also, in 1997 a Municipal Service District was established. Through the public-private cooperation of merchants, property owners, and the City Council the nonprofit Gastonia Economic Development Corporation leads the development effort. This body is the chief architect responsible for the National Historic District status being awarded and actively serves as promoter and contact for the revitalization of the downtown.
Economic Incentive for Downtown
Center City Development
Currently, the City is focused on efforts to encourage new investment by committing to street and utility investment, zoning ordinance modification, and offering incentive programs for commercial and residential investments.
In 1997 the new county courthouse, the new social services facility, and Gastonia's new police department were constructed along the north side of Long Avenue directly just two blocks from the City's center. The downtown has and will continue to offer governmental services, banking institutions, and opportunities for commercial and residential uses.