Restoring downtown: Historic area receiving an upgrade

Dozens of city officials, business owners, state representatives and community members were on hand Monday, July 12 as the historic downtown Madison Streetscape improvement project officially began at a 4 p.m. press conference.

In addition to the announcement, Cindy and Tony Sensenberger, owners of the art gallery 16 Main, also announced plans for a two-story, six-unit building next their studio. The Sensenbergers also own Main Street Café.

City council member Bill Holtzclaw said such a partnership between the city and the private sector is key to revitalizing the area.

“A public-private partnership is key in this day and age,” Holtzclaw said.

The new building is expected to be approximately 20,000 square feet.

Mayor Paul Finley said the building will be the perfect mix to merge the historic district with the 21st century.

“It is historic looking, but it has that new feel,” Finley said.

The city council approved plans for the revitalization project last month in the amount of $250,00, which will include underground utility work, sidewalks, draining improvements and additional parking. The plan also calls for widening Wise Street to two lanes.

“We’re going to have more people, and we better make it easier for them,” Finley said.

State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, Sen. Tom Butler, D-Huntsville, Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, and Rep. Mac McCutcheon are also expected to present the council with an additional $55,000 during Monday’s council meeting to go towards the project.

The project is aiming to jumpstart reinvestment into the area by attracting a local coffee shop with Wi-fi capabilities, an additional restaurant, relocating the Madison Chamber of Commerce along Main Street, and blending the historic buildings and appearance with newer, modern buildings with updated technology.

Although the project was just announced, Gary K. Jewelers has already signed a lease in the new building.

“I’m so excited,” Finley said. “This is the historic part, this is where Madison started and we don’t want to forget that.”

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