As we begin a new decade, we want to take time to look back at 2019 and review the successes for downtown Gadsden!
New businesses, along with renovations of various properties, have created excitement in the downtown area. During 2019, there were 7 property sales totaling almost $3,000,000. These sales, along with another $3,000,000 in renovations have seen remarkable improvements in our historic area. The first phase of the major renovation of the Life Insurance Company of Alabama has been completed in the 300 block of Broad and phase 2 began in mid 2019. Seven loft apartments at 612 Broad have been finished and are fully rented. Downtown Lofts, LLC in the 400 block of Broad Street are moving forward. We ended 2018 with 18 loft apartments and now have 25! We expect the number to grow to 40 by summer of 2020! Loft living is an important factor in the growth of the downtown area and we are excited to see the progress!
Lighting along the rooftops of the buildings on Broad Street were installed in July. The lights were purchased from funds raised at Sunset Sips along with grants from Districts 28, 29 and 30 Community Development funds. The City of Gadsden provided the installation. The lights provide a beautiful skyline when driving or walking downtown at night.
Downtown Gadsden’s best known event, First Friday, continues to bring thousands of people from this area and surrounding states to shop at our stores and eat in our restaurants while enjoying live music and classic cars. The event showcases our downtown and brings many people back to visit, shop and eat when things are less hectic! It is exciting to have so many people from out of town coming back to enjoy the area!
Another favorite, Musical Monday, celebrated a very successful year as “DJ” Buster Porch and “Chef” Curlie DeRamus provided wonderful entertainment and delicious food every Monday from June through September. Thanks to our sponsors, thousands of free meals were given to the public. Musical Monday continues to grow every year and provides cool Jazz music and delicious wings, hot dogs and homemade pound cake at no cost to those who attend. It provides a great way to get out and enjoy our beautiful downtown during the summer!
Our other special events have brought many people downtown throughout the year such as the Chili Cook Off, Third Thursdays, and Sunset Sips. In 2019, we sponsored various holiday-themed pub crawls. In addition to the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl, we added May the Fourth Be With You, the Halloween Pub Crawl and The 12 Bars of Christmas Crawl!
We also partner with other local non-profits throughout the year. During March First Friday we focus on local non-profit organizations with “Downtown Gadsden Gives Back”. During spring break, we partner with Gadsden/Etowah EMA and host the Spring Preparedness event to educate school children about being prepared during severe weather events.
2019 welcomed 9 new businesses in Downtown Gadsden while 7 businesses either relocated to other areas or closed. This resulted in a net gain of 2 new businesses in the downtown area. Occupancy currently remains above 90% of available properties.
DGI Director Kay Moore and Marketing Manager Drew Southers, attended the Main Street Alabama Conference in Decatur in August. Gadsden came home with 6 awards:
Main Street Hero – Curlie DeRamus
Excellence in Adaptive Reuse – Venue at Coosa Landing
Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation – Life Insurance Company of Alabama
Excellence in Economic Impact – Phillip Williams
Excellence in Design – Spencer and Rosalind Gray, Roseland Developmental LLC
Excellence in Public/Private Partnership – Rooftop Lighting
The success of downtown Gadsden should be credited to our merchants and restaurants, who work together to make our downtown THE place to visit, shop, eat and drink. We also depend heavily on our financial sponsors and welcome support from individuals as well. Our working partnership with the City of Gadsden, Greater Gadsden Area Tourism, Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, the Gadsden Museum of Art, and Main Street Alabama along with others, allows DGI to continue to grow and prosper with small businesses in the downtown area. This in turn strengthens the entire community.
We invite you to be a part of the success by shopping with our local merchants, eating in our locally owned restaurants, and supporting local museums, hospitals, professional services, and all other locally owned business! Be sure and check out our website, www.downtowngadsden.com, along with our social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! Think local, shop local, eat local, drink local. You will be glad that you did.