MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - With food, a cozy atmosphere, and a large crowd, Sa Za's opened its doors, ready to serve as the Commerce Street anchor of the city's 'Alleyway.'
"Everybody's palettes are getting more sophisticated in Montgomery, so I think it's time that they have something a little more elevated," explained Joe Dimaggio, Jr., the restaurant's owner.
While the party's going on downstairs, the work continues a few floors above. More than a dozen loft apartments are well on their way, slated to roll out in January.
"I think it's very important that we draw people back downtown in order to see the advantages there are to living downtown. I think that people are starting to realize it's a great place to live," said Greg Allen, who co-owns the building.
Sa Za's side of the alley has been closed for months. Despite some progress, many spaces remain empty.
City leaders say the building's owners are just looking for the right fit.
"Everyone talks about wanting a market downtown. They want retail downtown. Well, there's a perfect opportunity right across the alleyway here," said Deputy Mayor Jeff Downes.
It's a work in progress residents say they can really get behind.
"I'm ready for it. I think everybody's ready for it," said Harold Elmore of Montgomery.