Will Civic Center soon be fading memory?

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 5:36 AM CDT
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UPDATE: See tonight’s presentation here.

City center in Dothan is the immediate area surrounding and including the Civic Center. For it is there that our forefathers settled in the 1800′s, lured by a small spring that provided water essential to their livelihood.

Dubbed Poplar Head back then, the area slowly grew into Dothan that blossomed into Alabama’s second largest city south of Montgomery, surpassed only by Mobile.

A shopping hub for three states, Dothan’s most economically impactful industry other than retail is healthcare, with two major hospitals and many other medical facilities.

From that small spring, Dothan has become a thriving metropolis.

While historical reflections are important, the future is where we should focus, the city’s mayor believes.

“It is one of the few most exciting things we have going on right now,” is how Mayor Mark Saliba describes City Center Block, a long-range plan to inject Botox into the absolute center of what has become a sprawling city.

Kept under wraps for months, City Center Block plans will be unveiled publicly on April 4.

“This is big,” is how Saliba visions the transformation of the area from Wiregrass Museum of Art to Dothan Opera House, and on to Foster Street.

Input has been received from several groups and during public meetings.

The conceptional design has support from Wiregrass Foundation, a non-profit that has already donated $87 million to quality-of-life projects, per its website.

Saliba, though, is adamant that City Center Block funding must come from multiple sources, including city of Dothan, Houston County, government grants and private investment.

In fact, county commissioners two weeks ago approved $1 million for a green space.

Among other ideas that have been tossed around is constructing a new arena to replace the Civic Center.

“Any architecture that you look at around the country at some point the design doesn’t fit the needs of the people,” Saliba told News 4, when asked about Civic Center plans.

That is nice way of saying that old arena constructed almost 50 years ago probably needs to go, as does structurally attached city hall.

To be clear, a new Civic Center is a few years—maybe many --- down the road, but Saliba is optimistic City Center Block work will begin soon.

“We will be making plans this year,” though he stops short of promising 2022 construction.

Just last week, Dothan City Commissioners approved funding architecture design work.

The Highway 84 East Main Corridor project, another conceptional plan, could work in tandem with City Center Block, though they are separate improvement initiatives.

The City Center Block plan will be unveiled April 4 at 5:30 at the Civic Center main arena.

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