For years now we have been keeping a close eye on the downtown area and the different projects that city officials have undertaken to revitalize the Heart of Dothan. But, there is still quite a bit of work to be done before downtown starts thriving again.
The River Nile Bistro on Foster Street -- closed! The Penny Building -- closed! That seems to be the case with a number of places in Downtown Dothan.
Many downtown shops and businesses are closing up and moving out to the suburbs where the majority of people live.
Dothan City Manager Mike West says "Downtown Dothan has experienced what a lot of downtown's have. For people to come downtown you have to give people a reason to come downtown."
The River Nile Bistro moved out of Foster Street and closer to the mall because of high rent rates.
Mayor Pat Thomas says The Penny Building closed because the cafeteria on the first floor was not the success the owner thought it would be.
The high rates, small space and what some say are overpriced building costs are some of the problems that are keeping businesses from investing in the center of town. But, city officials say one of the key elements to bringing business back is getting people to live in downtown.
Thomas says "We've seen that the key to downtown is people living in downtown.”
And plans to build condos and apartments in downtown are already underway. Joseph Donofro is one of the architects heading up a condo project that will occupy four floors in the WTVY Building.
Donofro says "What we're going to do is to create eight condominium units out of the four floors that are vacant. And they're averaging about 2500 to 2600 square feet each. We’ll be able to get three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bath units on the floors themselves."
The new condos, which will range in cost between $300,000 and $400,000 are all part of the big vision that is the future of Downtown Dothan.
Kathy Cole with The Downtown Group says "The vision for downtown is a wonderful one. It's 24 hour living, it's loft living, it's specialty shops, cafe's and jazz clubs, and high end restaurants."
Now the big question is will this plan to revitalize Downtown Dothan continue to take as long as it already has.
One new hot dog stand called "Pa's Place" is scheduled to open in the very near future, on Foster Street.
The mayor and other city officials have visited cities in Georgia and South Carolina to look for ideas on how to improve our downtown area. They say that now is the time to make those ideas reality.