Four-Year Revitalization Paying Off Downtown - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Bob Snell Reports

Four-Year Revitalization Paying Off Downtown

June 12, 2003
Posted at: 10:50 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- A four-year effort to bring downtown Jonesboro back to life is bearing fruit.

Forty years ago, downtown Jonesboro was the hub of the city. But as the city spread its wings, the center of town came crashing down. Now however, thanks to careful planning, the downtown area is coming alive again.

The city's revitalization efforts are paying off with more people coming downtown and more businesses looking at downtown opportunities, according to vendors. The sound of success, the hustle and bustle of lunch hour at a downtown restaurant like Sheffield's is an example of one of the many downtown businesses reaping the rewards of revitalization.

"During the process it has started to get people down here," said Steven Hickinbotham, manager of Sheffield's. "People wanted to see.

"Now I've noticed that we've been getting people at night," Hickinbotham added. "Walking downtown. We have several businesses that are moving in and a lot of new things that are happening.

"I think it's starting to shake up Jonesboro a little bit."

"(It's) unbelievable, things are great," said Ted Herget of Gearhead Outfitters, an outdoor recreation store. "We are being very well received in the community, business is up. So there's not really much more you can ask than that."

Gearhead Outfitters has been a mainstay in Jonesboro for years. But it has become a "name" since relocating to Main Street just 7 months ago.

"Actually foot traffic has surprised me," Herget said. "We have so many people, we've been in business for 6 years, and we still have people come in and have no idea we've been around, so it's nice."

New sidewalks, cross walks, and lamp posts are all part of a four-part beautification project that is now complete. The next phase in the development is loft apartments in the downtown area.

"You must bring people downtown to live again" said Nancy Chrisman of Jonesboro Central Planning. "Because when we shopped here 40 years ago, a block on either side of Main Street there were residences, people living down here.

"Once you have more density of people down here, it makes it better for shops, or services, or stores to be open to them."

"I like the changes that they've made," said Traci Simpson, a downtown patron. "Making it look cleaner, making it look more prettier for people to visit. Yeah, I like coming back downtown here."

In order to lure more people downtown, city organizers are planning a number of events through the summer and fall as a means to show off the area's progress.

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