DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – – – Downtown Decatur is working to establish a new reputation. The downtown area is undergoing a major rebirth with several improvement projects.

Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Kelly Thomas says, “We really haven’t seen this kind of development in our city center since probably our riverboat heydays! – Maybe even the 50s/60s. Downtowns went through a period where they kind of died and people went away from them to malls. Now we’re seeing everyone return to the downtowns and really making it the heart of each city.”

Fairfield Inn and Suites Marriott on Second Avenue, the first true downtown hotel in the city’s center, is anticipated to be complete by the end of the year.

In February, Decatur’s Development Director Dane Shaw told News 19 that a multi-story parking deck with retail spaces (behind the hotel on First Avenue and Moulton Street) is expected to be complete later this year. 

Officials hope the Alabama Center for the Arts‘ student dormitory (next to the parking deck on Johnston Street) will be done by the end of this year too.

“Just in this block alone, we’re seeing a huge amount of construction, but we’ve also got construction throughout the rest of our downtown,” stated Thomas. 

Thomas tells News 19 these projects are great for people who live in the River City and business travelers as well.

“We’re truly becoming a tourism destination where people want to come to our downtown for the Cook Museum of Natural Science, the Princess Theatre, Alabama Center for the Arts — we’re seeing people come from all over…outside the state even…just to see Downtown Decatur,” added Thomas. 

Thomas says the Sixth Avenue Corridor Project is still in the works. They’re hoping to start on that in the next year or two.