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Cheers to the Trussville Downtown doubters

By Scott Buttram

Commentary

TRUSSVILLE –“I’ll believe it when I see it.” “It’ll never happen.”

If I had a nickel for every time I heard those two comments, I’d have more nickels than Donald Trump has tweets.

Raise a glass to the doubters of Trussville Downtown. I come not to bury the them, but to praise them.

For the purpose of distinction, we must separate the doubters from the CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) dwellers.  The doubters were doubters for a reason. Actually many reasons.

CAVE dwellers just oppose for the sake of opposition. They will most certainly oppose the rapture due to the traffic jams on Highway 11 caused by unattended vehicles and then criticize the police for not being prepared to tow the vehicles away fast enough.

If you took the time to hear the doubters out, you know that historical evidence – both recent and ancient – supported their doubts. Some had heard the promises of a revitalized downtown for decades. Many of them had wholeheartedly supported past efforts to breathe life into downtown only to be left deflated by unfulfilled promises. Their doubts were well founded.

Those cautionary tales of doubt also served as a motivator to city leaders to finally get the ball rolling and to follow through on the promise of a thriving and vibrant city center.

Done right, there will be no end to downtown revitalization. Sure, there will be ribbon cuttings for individual businesses, but there will also be cycles of economic ups and downs leading to contractions and expansions. That’s why the master plan and the ground work is essential. The foundation of it all must be solid enough to stand the test of time.

There will never come a time to declare mission accomplished on downtown. As I wrote three years ago, there are many moving parts and revitalization is an ongoing process. But the stage of will happen has passed to the stage of is happening. The evidence is undeniable.

Related article: 6 things you need to know about downtown redevelopment 

All over downtown, more than half a dozen buildings have been renovated giving a fresh look to the future. Some spurred by a city grant program and some due entirely to the investment and vision of individual downtown property owners anxious to do their part to move the city forward.

The Downtown Merchants Association has been hosting monthly events for two years, setting the area up as a “go-to” destination even before there was much to see or do beyond the event itself. Instead of fearing growth and competition, these businesses owners have rolled out the welcome mat to new businesses. They know full well that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Multiple new boutiques, restaurants, and professional offices have opened in the downtown area within the last few years. More are coming.

With the opening of Edgar’s Bakery this month, patrons will have seen two new restaurants and a craft beer brewery open in less than 90 days. Great Harvest Bread Company and Slag Heap Brewery are not only packing in customers, but are also partnering with each other to create a true downtown business community.

The city has acquired land for additional roads to accommodate increased traffic and to provide public parking. Utility companies are in ongoing meetings to determine the best routes for services. Work on the roads, sidewalks, landscaping, parking lots, an amphitheater, and pavilion will soon be bid.

On Morrow Avenue, the renovation of Ferus which will house a craft beer brewery, distillery, restaurant, event space, additional retail businesses, and canning facility is well underway.  It is likely that Ferus will be canning beer for wholesale distribution before the taproom is even open to the public.

Multiple buildings have been removed along Morrow and new construction for additional restaurants and retail will soon begin.

Don’t be surprised to see a doubter sitting at the table next to you downtown. Welcome them. Buy them a Trussville craft brewed beer. You see, they were never opposed to a vibrant downtown. History had just planted seeds of doubt.  But now the doubts are falling away.

If seeing is believing, it’s time to believe.

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