Meeting could signal next economic wave near downtown Montgomery

Meeting could signal next economic wave near downtown Montgomery
The property at 414 Caroline Street. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
The property at 414 Caroline Street. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A forgotten part of Montgomery is forgotten no more. Thursday, city development leaders met with prospective buyers of a property that borders the Five-Points area, a piece of land that could very well become the launching pad for the next big wave of developments.

Johnnie Sankey can see it already.

"I see Johnnie Mae's coffee shop where people can come and see the memorial," she said.

The Equal Justice Initiative Memorial is currently under construction across the street, a memorial to remember and honor those who died from lynchings many years ago.

"This will definitely be a game-changer for this area," Sankey predicted.

414 Caroline Street is considered fertile ground for the next wave of economic developments. On the third floor in downtown Montgomery, Melanie Golson walked through the requirements and deadlines they're looking for during a meeting with potential buyers. The city wants $99,000 for the acre of land.

"But if the project presents itself at a lower bid, we're open to anything," Golson said. She's the Montgomery City Department Of Development Program Manager.

Only four people showed up at the meeting, but Golson was not disappointed.

"We didn't have any expectations who might be coming, but I was glad there were some people interested," she admitted.

The overriding goal is to find a buyer who will build something to complement the memorial.

"Restaurants, some shops and residential units upstairs. Those would be good examples of what we're looking for," the manager explained.

Starting Thursday it's up to prospective buyers such as Johnnie Sankey to determine whether they're interested in the property. The city hopes to see dirt moving in a year.

"It's a potential," said Sankey, who intends to make a decision in three weeks or so whether to let the dream go or stake a claim on 414 Caroline.

As a footnote to this story, we checked with the Equal Justice Initiative to see how construction is coming along on the memorial and the museum across the street from 414 Caroline Street. We're told it should be finished by early 2018.

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