PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 downtown area is looking better and better, with businessman and developer Chris Bass recently purchasing four of the buildings on Pruett Street in Paragould.
He said he wants the area to thrive again.
"I own a lot of buildings down here," Bass said. "These four, this whole block here, has been dead for a long time. So, I just felt like if we could rejuvenate these four buildings it would really help everybody down here, including my property values as well."
Bass said he's put a lot of work into the properties.
"Each one of the properties, I've pretty much gutted them," Bass said. "I'm completely remodeling them, new heat and air, electrical, plumbing, bathrooms, everything's new. But then, on the other hand, trying to bring back some of the old characters. The original tin ceilings, the brick walls and just trying to make it look like it did back one hundred years ago."
Bass said he decided to undertake this project because of what the downtown area means to him.
"I've always loved downtown," Bass said. "I grew up in downtown Paragould. I used to ride my bike up and down the street and I've had my business down here for 20 years and it's my hometown and so, it means a lot to me to see this vibrant again."
Bass said the downtown area doing well is good for the whole economy.
"Anytime you can show your downtown area off to people coming in from the outside it always helps the tax base," Bass said. "That's one thing, since we've been down here it helps the property tax values. It helps the values of all the properties, and of course sales tax. It just helps everything downtown. And it helps our reputation as a city. So, I think it's important, very important."
Bass said the work on the buildings is coming along.
"I've finished one of the projects completely," Bass said. "This two-story building we're probably a month away from completely finishing it inside and out. I have both of these leased already. They're just waiting to move in. This large building that used to be a flea market, we've done a lot of work in there and it's basically ready for somebody. And then there's one we've got to get started on, it'll be next."
Bass said the downtown area is a good place to establish your business.
"I think downtown is a great opportunity for somebody to come down here and start a business," Bass said. "There have been a lot of misconceptions about the downtown. There's a lot of people who come down here to do business. It's not what it was 20 years ago, I can tell you that. And every time I get a building ready I rent it. So, I have a lot of buildings down here. They're all rented except for maybe one. So, it's a great place. There's a lot of people wanting to be down here. The problem is the spaces aren't ready. But everything that's ready is rented."
Two of the buildings he purchased and renovated have already been leased.
"A husband and wife team are leasing the upstairs and downstairs of one of these buildings," Bass said. "He's going to have an office upstairs and the wife is going to start a business called, 'Daughters Boutique'. They'll be selling wedding gowns and prom dresses and things like that. So, I think it's going to be good."
Bass said he's invested around $500,000 in restoring all four buildings to their former glory.
For more information about Downtown Paragould, click here.