CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The long-discussed renovation of Slack Plaza and Brawley Walkway has never gotten off the design boards but its inclusion in Charleston's new downtown redevelopment plan could give it new life.
If the plan is carried out as proposed, both Brawley Walkway and Slack Plaza would be reconstructed to allow for a more open environment that could host events.
Trees would line the corridor, and "compartmentalized" spaces would be eliminated in favor of a more open feel. Part of Shonk Plaza, a retail building across the street from the Charleston Town Center, would also be cut back to give the path more space.
But the biggest proposed change to the area is the relocation of the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority's transit mall.
It would be moved further north to border Lee Street.
Pedestrians walking from Capitol Street to Charleston Town Center currently must pass through the transit mall. If the plan were executed, that would no longer be the case.
The development plan cites "social issues" and "perception of crime" as the reason for moving the transit mall.
Slack Plaza has been described as an eyesore, and public drinking and drug activity have been concerns.
Business owners in the area say something needs to be done.
Diana Thomas, owner of Diana's Downtown Cafe on Summers Street, considers the proximity of the transit mall a problem.
"It hurts my business," she said. "They bum money off my customers."
Thomas used to operate her restaurant on Capitol Street but moved to Summers Street two years ago for a better space. She knows many of her customers by name, and while her business is doing fine, she said it could be better.
"A lot of people don't come by here because of it," she said.
Thomas said problems in the area are much worse at night. In the morning, she often finds empty beer bottles in the entryway of a vacant building across Brawley Walkway, and she frequently has to clean up the mess herself.