Downtown Business Recruitment On

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In March, when Gracie’s Bohemian Restaurant opened it seemed like a glimmer of light in what most considered a hopeless situation.

The downtown area was having a problem, eye soars seemingly ricocheted from abandoned buildings and empty lots. And the fact that Gracie’s decided to open, and replace a business which previously relocated, fit perfectly into what city officials deemed as the downtown Dothan master plan.

That plan is to make downtown more beautiful and a hub for activity. But, for now it seems like a dent has been put into the city's proposals, when nine months later Gracie's owners have closed their doors.

This is the second business in the past few months.

"Gracie's had a huge menu with lots of wonderful things on it--more expensive items so it was actually the overhead maybe that was one of the issues," says the Downtown Dothan Group Director Cathy Cole.

But those with the downtown Dothan group stay optimistic, especially with new prospects eyeing the area. Especially when those prospects decide to call downtown ‘home.’

Take for example 33-year-old new business owner James Severson who just opened urban apparel retail store Elite Styles. After his younger brother was killed during the Christmas holiday last year, Severson says he wanted to change his life around before he too suffered the same fate.

That turn led him to downtown Dothan.

"I feel like a lot of these places downtown are going to eventually open back up. We're glad to have the opportunity to be one of the first ones." says Severson.

"My hope for this business is that it attracts a lot of foot traffic and brings more people to the downtown location" Continues Cole.

James says he has long-term plans for the store which include breaking out into a franchise.

Meanwhile, the downtown group is making other plans to bring more businesses back into the area the downtown group is actively recruiting another restaurant in the Gracie’s location.

The city of Dothan is holding an open house next week to discuss initial ideas for downtown revitalization. It's scheduled for Monday, Dec. 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the city commission chambers.