Downtown Renovation in Batesville

MAY 30, 2006 -- POSTED AT 11:00 P.M. CDT

BATESVILLE, AR -- Batesville is the second oldest city in the state of Arkansas and a lot of their history comes from their downtown district.

"The buildings here are incredible. They really are. They have a lot of integrity, character, charm and a lot of potential," says Clay Young, a Jonesboro developer.

Clay Young does the majority of his developments in Jonesboro and although the 2 cities are much different in size, Batesville and Jonesboro's Downtown Districts' have several similarities.

"Main Street in Downtown Batesville is where we were 7 years ago, but they also have buildings that are prettier than what we had to work with," says Young.

However, Young was there to give advice to another city and help point them in the right direction to renovate and preserve their historic downtown district.

"We asked for his advice. What are the top three steps that we need to take to entice developers to come to Batesville," says Kimberly Harper, Executive Director of Main Street Batesville.

He advised 3 main things for the city. Getting a banker's consortium to lower the interest rates for developers, taking inventory of what all downtown has to offer a developer, and last, parking, which is something young says is the infrastructure of any downtown district.

Young says Downtown Batesville already has tremendous potential, but to make their dream a reality it will take a joint effort.

"What they have to do is work together with the developers and the city really trying to make it easy to work together and stay positive. It will look totally different in 10 years if they just take action, start now and just do it," says Young.

Downtown districts across the state emphasize the importance of downtown to their cities and batesville is no exception to the rule.

"When you talk to industrial and economic development recruits and clients about the city, they look at quality of life things such as your educational systems, your medical systems, your downtown area, and your shopping areas. It's all about a package," says Barry Sellars, the President and C.E.O. of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce.