Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring, And Development Sprouts Again

I have been watching downtown for a while and now that Spring is here we have a lot of things shaking in the wind.

I think that we all know about the new Shakespeare and Co. coming at the corner of Short and Broadway. They have been taking a long time getting to where they are, but there was a lot to do. I have taken some photos of the corner since 2008 when the old Clark hardware building was painted and the former Wrokledge space needed a little fixing up.
August 2008
March 2008

First came the outside repairs of the windows and the tin mouldings at the cornice and gutters, 
then a matching paint job. 
And then we waited. And we waited.

Oct 2010
The construction barrier went up, the roll-off dumpsters arrived and a lot of things must have gone on behind the scenes. Dumpsters came and went. Materials arrived and disappeared inside with still no mention of what it was.
Late July 2011
The name became known, but little else and that gave little indication of what was to come. It was the foreign press that gave the best information on an interesting looking restaurant (and I hate to use the word) chain out of the United Arab Emirates. With a fabulous ethnic menu and exquisitely decorated facilities, Mrs. Sweeper and I could only wait with great anticipation of an opening date.

The end of the Thursday Night Live series last year brought thoughts of celebrating our anniversary there toward the end of 2011, but the concrete floor was still to be laid. Little did I know that almost the entire foundation and structural support system needed to be replaced. It is no wonder that it took so long.

They are working on the finishing touches in the past few weeks, as seen below.


On the other side of the parking lot, the Behr family is now quickly working on the former Metropol building, transforming it into The Village Idiot. 

A spruced up paint job and a renewed interior will bring this place right up there with Shakespeare and Table 310. I hope that they can influence someone to replace that dead street tree on Mill St by the right hand parking lot.

Aug 2011
Feb 2012

Mar 2012

Not the same as downtown but not so far away is the seemingly equally working time on the new version of The Jefferson Davis Inn. Announced with some fanfare and replacing another proposed development, a 7 story mixed use project not really accepted by the neighborhood, the block just stood there with a hole in the ground and a construction fence. I was even asked if the guy behind it was digging the foundation and pouring the footing was doing the job all by himself.

The builder told me the other day that sometimes “it seemed that way”. This project was started during the worst setback of a recession that most of us have seen and applying for and getting a small business loan took way longer than anticipated. After 14 months the loan has come through and the hard work of preparing foundation and steel is behind them. The walls are going up and an August opening date is being set.

Henry Clay Public House

Back downtown, across Upper St from the old Court House, is the third lot of Jordon’s row. A building being lovingly restored by only the fifth owner since it was built in early 1800’s for Henry Clay. It soon will be the site of Doug Breeding’s latest venture, the Henry Clay Public House. It looks like an opening date could be as early as late May or June. This building will still have the owner’s office on the second floor and a small apartment on the third, but it will be another site for libations and snack foods downtown.

Now can we bring on the rest of the retail and housing stock to revive a real downtown?

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