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Spartanburg County has begun a mulit-year planning process.  Connect with the process on their Spartanburg County Area Performance Planning website.



[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Duncan, South Carolina

Land use decisions impact the way we go about our daily routines. The proximity of our homes to schools, parks, shops and dining in large part determines how we can get to and enjoy those destinations. These everyday experiences are directly tied to the way we design our communities. Good community design requires a shared community vision and land use policies to make that vision reality. Leaders in the Town of Duncan understood the intrinsic value of close proximity and design for walkability within their own small town in Spartanburg County.

"Duncan already has the advantage of a great sidewalk system and a significant number of walkers who use the sidewalks," notes Mayor Lisa Cooley Scott, "so we wanted to build on that."

But how do you encourage more people to walk in a downtown area that has been stagnant? How can a focus on people spur economic growth and vitality?


Beginning in 2012, Upstate Forever partnered with the Town of Duncan to launch a multi-faceted community design initiative to address these issues. As a result, the town has made steady progress toward its goals. In March 2015, Duncan Town Council adopted a Pedestrian Overlay District, an ordinance that requires new construction and major renovations in the five-block downtown core to include human-scale, pedestrian-oriented elements such as attached buildings with entrances that front the sidewalk, large display windows and awnings for shade. This action culminated three years of planning for investments in public infrastructure to support private redevelopment along the town's Main Street corridor. "Duncan now has a clear direction to push forward and become vibrant once again," says Scott.


The first step in 2012 was to create and adopt a physical master plan for improving the streetscape along Main Street's five-block core. With pooled resources including contributions from private citizens and the town, a team of consultants developed a vision for the area with the input of local merchants, residents and other stakeholders.


The first real planning for the town in more than 100 years was cause for celebration. Community groups and volunteers came together in June 2013 to stage Better Block Duncan, a demonstration project to celebrate what the future could hold. The one-day event temporarily transformed a parking lot on Main Street into a vibrant pocket park with park benches, trees and flowers, a water fountain, art, music and refreshments. Crosswalk and signage installations temporarily enhanced pedestrian safety and connectivity to nearby destinations for active recreation, including a Cub Scout bicycle rodeo. Better Block Duncan raised the profile of the community's efforts and built additional support for the town's plan to improve the public zone - the street and sidewalks.  


In partnership with Upstate Forever and Spartanburg County Parks in 2014, the Town of Duncan adopted plans for a linear park to extend pedestrian-friendly improvements along Main Street beyond the downtown core. The linear park plan builds off the town's streetscape plan to link additional community assets along the Main Street corridor, including Shipwreck Cove Water Park in one direction and Byrnes High School, the South Carolina Academic Learning Environment Park and other Spartanburg County School District Five facilities in the other direction. Embracing Duncan's beginnings as a 19th-century railroad town, the linear park could eventually include 20 small Whistle Stop parklets and a number of other pedestrian-friendly improvements. Mayor Scott foresees that in the future, the downtown area will come alive again. "We can have a healthy, active and connected community," she says.


Learn more about Upstate Forever's Community Design for Active Living initiative.