Marianna: Down But Not Out Thanks to Main Street Redevelopment (Main Street Preservation | Winner Under 5,000)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 12:00 am  

Buildings that were likely on their way to collapse were purchased by the trust (thanks to a large donation from a local resident), and remodeled and made structurally sound and suitable for lease by the trust to tenants.

Downtown businesses now occupying former empty buildings include Poplar Street Grill, a flower shop, a shoe and accessory store, a nail/hair salon and a gift shop.

The Williamson Building across from City Hall was completed in 2010, and Audirsch said officials are holding out to lease it to a commercial enterprise that could boost activity and economic development.

In addition, volunteers turned the downtown square into a true green space that attracts families and includes a playground and a twice-a-week farmer’s market, and the trust worked with the Community Foundation of Lee County to renovate a 100-year-old house just a block from downtown. The Community House now houses the local chamber of commerce, meeting rooms and an events center. Audirsch called it important to the history and culture of Marianna.

So many improvements have been made in recent years, Audirsch said, that a former resident returned home after about 10 years and said the changes were “night and day.”

Apple, who sometimes led renovation efforts herself, sledgehammer in hand, said the community embraced the idea of bringing downtown back to life. Folks reasoned, she said, that Marianna might as well look good for those who decide to stay (or come back), if for no one else.

One day soon, the roads leading into town may get busy again.



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