MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The story of downtown Montgomery is one many of us have watched unfold for years. Revitalization has been a big focus of the city to ensure a bright future.
From the fountain to the Capital, we can see revamped store fronts, hundreds of people living here and new developments still in the works.
In the last four years, downtown Montgomery has seen $169 million of construction value in building permits.
“So that is just about 16 percent of the entire city in the value of construction projects. That is a big number. This isn’t just data collected by the city, but evident when you walk the streets of Dexter Avenue," said City of Montgomery Senior Development Manager Lois Cortell. “Downtown is happy and thriving when we have people living working and playing.”
Cortell said this is why getting more mixed use facilities has been a major goal. The number of residential units is now close to 1400.
“To get more 24-hour use, people living above people shopping below,” said Cortell.
It is not just locals who are flocking to downtown.
“We have seen a real up tick in tourism,” said Ron Simmons with the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.
Simmons said they have seen an increased need for hotels.
“Last year we sold 107,000-room nights more than we did the previous year. We expect to exceed that again,” he said.
Right now two hotels are under construction. Lee Street and the other on Coosa.
“It equates to jobs. It means jobs in hospitalities in jobs and restaurants,” he said.
And with a number of attractions in and around downtown it makes the capital city a total destination.
“You look at all of the things we have to offer, the culture, the arts, the entertainment. This is a great place to be and it is a fun time to be us,” Simmons said.
But there is still work to be done.
“There’s still a lot more that can be done. There are still boarded-up buildings. Some of which we have sold, and the developer under time expectations to renovate. There are significant areas downtown where there could still be substantially new, larger residential projects, and I’m hopeful that developers see those and start adding them,” said Cortell.
Dexter Avenue is becoming a Smart City Living Laboratory, installing LED lights, smart parking, expanded WiFi, and cameras. City leaders believe improving infrastructure and technology will help them attract high-paying jobs and bring in a new generation of residents.