Rowland leaders envision future restaurants, houses, grocery stores – The Robesonian

Rowland Mayor Robert McDougald sits at his desk, as a large pad detailing the vision for the town’s future jointly assembled by the government and residents sits out of frame on a couch.
Shown is an oversized notepad where residential concerns about the state of Rowland were listed for future reference.
ROWLAND — “Most of these buildings are in such disrepair,” explained Mayor Robert McDougald, “they are beyond the economic capabilities of the owners.”
The Rowland town government has ambitions to redevelop their main street and extend the business sector closer to I-95’s Exit 2. As McDougald explained, there are only two functioning buildings, and three businesses with uninhabitable structures, many constructed in the 1920s and 1930s and nearing or more than a century old.
“Once the roof goes in,” McDougald said, “everything else is going to go.”
The concern for redevelopment is shared by the residents of Rowland, whom the current town government is making efforts to include in their plans for the future. McDougald stated the last few decades had passed without the government asking the public about their vision for the town. Last Wednesday, a town hall meeting was held in the courtroom, attended by 60-70 people and moderated by the mayor.
“They want to see more businesses,” said McDougald after the meeting, “and more economic opportunity.”
The other major concern of those at the meeting was housing opportunities.
As outlined by McDougald the redevelopment work has two methods of dealing with crumbling buildings. The first is to work with the owners to restore the buildings to accessibility and the businesses to function. The second solution is to apply for a revitalization grant, which McDougald characterized as the most economical.
The town has hopes of attracting another grocery store, which McDougald stated was to provide residents choice in their shopping and dissuade people from going elsewhere, such as Lumberton, to buy their essential groceries.
“Everybody seems to think if Maxton can get a Food Lion,” McDougald said, “so can we.”
The other companies under consideration are IGA, which McDougald named the most likely candidate and Piggly Wiggly. While no area has been earmarked for the grocery store yet, there are a number of areas open for expansion, and some local farmers have already agreed to sell of their land to make space for new businesses.
Some progress has already been accomplished by refurbishing the town’s railway depot, which McDougald named as a source of revenue. Once a stopover for the transportation of cotton and tobacco, the depot has been repurposed, half a historical museum, half an event center. The money for this work was secured by the previous mayor, Michelle Shooter, in the form of a grant.
McDougald called Alice’s Hidden Treasures. The most recent business to open in Rowland, this point of pride became another face of uncertainty when the mayor was informed the thrift store had encountered financial difficulties.
This has not prevented commonplace issues from rearing their heads.
“We’ve had a major issue with those young guys driving Dodge Chargers,” McDougald said, before explaining the new speed bumps installed just this summer.
However, the primary concern remains the pursuit of growth and hope for prosperity in the Rowland town government offices and homes of the townspeople.
“Folks want to see a Cracker Barrel right there at Exit 2,” McDougald said, not long before rain began to drizzle the cotton fields and vacant lands around Rowland.
Copeland Jacobs can be reached via phone at 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]
2175 N. Roberts Ave,
Lumberton, NC 28358


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