Pickens’ revitalization moves ahead

PICKENS — The Pickens Revitalization Association (PRA) has completed the public meetings relative to its charrette project and has vital information they are ready to incorporate into a master development plan for the city of Pickens.
“Pickens has never had a master plan,” said city administrator Katherine Brackett. “This is one of the most important and useful tools for any governing city to have for its growth and development.”
Pared down to the most basic of concepts, a charrette is one of the most powerful and effective tools for creative and collaborative problem-solving in communities. Whether designing a community master plan, designing a park or solving housing challenges in urban neighborhoods, the charrette provides a physical framework for a community to implement its visions and engage its citizens.
“The city hired a group of experts to help us connect the dots between downtown businesses, property owners and on-going city projects,” said Brackett, “so we can have a unified vision for the city of Pickens.
The two major components of the charrette include a market analysis and a way-finding sign plan.
“The market analysis information will be incredibly helpful for the chamber of commerce and people who want to open businesses in Pickens,” said Brackett. “For example, people talk about wanting a hotel in Pickens, but the data does not support the need for a hotel. Instead, the figures suggest we should have a bed and breakfast.”
The market analysis also shows a need for full service restaurants like The Gatehouse. It is this information that will help the city develop to its full potential because it offers concrete and supportive evidence to show people what types of businesses will thrive in the city, while at the same time weeding out ideas that do not have much room for development.
This is also true of the way-finding sign plan. With the development of branding and signage, the city of Pickens wants to create a look that is going to be both aesthetically pleasing and offer continuity and connection throughout the city.
If there is going to be true growth and development, there must be a shared vision. Pickens as a city and as a community needs to be able to see “the big picture,” Brackett said.
Helping the city of Pickens develop a unified vision was not free. According to Brackett, $26,000 came out of the hospitality fund to pay for the charette.
While people might question why those funds are not being used to improve the water system in Pickens, Brackett explained that funds generated through the hospitality tax have state-imposed restrictions on how they can be spent.
Aside from the need to educate residents about how and why the hospitality funding is used, Brackett says that she has heard nothing but positive responses to the plans for growth and development in the city of Pickens.
The final report and presentation should be linked to and available via the city of Pickens’ website (, according to Brackett.