MADISON, Ala.(WHNT)-The historic and once sleepy downtown Madison is waking up again as a multi-million dollar revitalization project takes effect, and business owners in the area say they’re reaping the benefits.
Downtown Madison’s transformation began more than a year ago when phase one of the massive makeover was launched. Business owners who rolled the dice and relocated there say they’ve since noticed a drastic difference in customer traffic, especially in recent months.
“It’s just a destination now,” said Lynn Crumbly, owner of Whistle Stop Sweet Shop. “It’s kind of being revived. I’ve seen so much change coming, and I wanted to be kind of in on that.”
Whistle Stop Sweet Shop was the first of more than half-a-dozen businesses that moved to downtown Madison more than a year ago on the promise of revitalization from city leaders. Phase one of the project set up infrastructure and a new plaza for several incoming businesses, all of which report steady growth.
“There’s lunch traffic here, there’s starting to be evening traffic,” said Crumbly. “Some of the places are staying open later. We see families coming in, riding their bikes, walking.”
Phase two of the project will begin in a matter of days, a sequence that includes significant upgrades for the old hardware store building that will soon be the new home of Old Black Bear Brewery. Several road and utility upgrades will also be performed, with the second round of work expected to be completed by late summer. The estimated price tag for the entire downtown makeover is $6 million, a cost Crumbly says is well worth it.
“We have people come in every day who live in Madison say ‘I had no idea this little area was even here.’ This is kind of our little jewel in Madison, so we want to keep it nice.”