GARNER, N.C. — More than $1 million in federal funds will be used to make improvements and revitalize historic Downtown Garner. 

A check was presented by Representative Deborah Ross to town leaders Friday morning. 

The hope is these funds will serve as the catalyst for change in the area.

“It’s just so great to see downtown explode like it has. It’s another milestone today, with adding more parking,” said Demian Dellinger, a member of town council and the Downtown Garner Association. “There’s so much demand down here; we need more places.”

That’s the number one priority for town leaders: revitalize the historic downtown to make it a destination. 

Since 2009, there’s been about $34 million of public and private investments to grow the area.

That money does not include the $1,030,405 check given to town officials, to make further enhancements to Main Street and Rand Mill Road. 

“These are exciting times for our historic commercial district. It’s really the heart of our community and becoming even more so all the time,” added Mayor Ken Marshburn.

New businesses, like Aristotle Spirits, have been popping up, but owners have expressed some concerns with the lack of parking in downtown. 

That’s one of the main obstacles in the way of the district truly succeeding: parking, walkability, and the occasional flooding. 

The federal funds will go toward building a new pedestrian plaza and sidewalk, creating a parking lot with 59 spaces, improving storm water drainage, and more. 

Officials are hoping this will help bring about great things.

“It will transform an underutilized part of the community to a productive asset,” said Ross. “[By] increasing accessibility for residents and visitors to enjoy restaurants, shops, distilleries and more.”

The Garner project is of the 10 community projects across Wake County receiving federal funds to make needed improvements. 

Ross spearheaded the initiative.