Revitalization projects spur downtown business boom

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Downtown Main Street is seeing an influx of businesses right now, surpassing expectations from local officials.

The Main Street Batesville organization spent 2017 working to revitalize and beautify the downtown area and that effort seems to be paying off with several new businesses wanting to locate there in 2018.

"When you're starting a big beautification process and you're investing a lot of time and money in that, you don't know if it's going to work really, to be honest, but you get it done and it just starts happening and that was really rewarding," said Main Street Batesville Executive Director Shannon Haney. "Of course it's not all the streetscape's benefit that this happened but I think it created a lot of excitement that has helped businesses grow downtown."

Main Street saw five new businesses in 2017, and have already beat that total in the first few months of this year.

The Food Lot, a food truck park in downtown, is now open and First Community Bank is currently renovating a building for its new branch.

Two new stores, Main Street Attire and Salon and a barber shop called Sweeney's, recently opened.

Main Attire Owner Laura McGuire said the growing excitement around the area is what drew her there.

"In Downtown Batesville, they have really been revitalizing our Main Street and it's just been wonderful to see the change and the life come back to town so we were really blessed with the opportunity and excited to be a part of that," McGuire said.

McGuire said business has been good in their first month as people continue to venture downtown to see everything that is happening.

Two other Main Street businesses, Clara Jane and Jax and 109, a restaurant, are both expanding this year as well.

Another new asset coming to downtown is more housing.

"We've got the first two loft apartments about finished and we've got a hotel opening maybe the latter part of this year," Haney said. "That will be upper floor, sort of like Air BNB, apartment-style, longer term stay."

Haney said that is a needed contribution to the town because many people want to stay within walking distance of stores and restaurants when traveling.

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