Occasionally over the years I’ve given updates about projects I’ve mentioned some time back or developments which others reported first and you might have missed. So, here’s a chance to make sure we all know what’s going on.
The Tombras Group, an advertising and public relations firm, reportedly purchased the KUB building and the adjacent building. If you haven’t lived here long enough to know the building, perhaps you’ll know it as the glazed green brick building on the corner of Church and Gay, across from the Rowing Man sculpture. According to the News Sentinel, the company plans to invest $10 million in the building, which will include a replacement of the facade. They are asking for a $1.7 million tax deferment package from the city.
The best news in that announcement was the indication from Mr. Tombras that the company previously avoided showing downtown to the young, creative-types they recruit and now it has become their biggest selling point and the place their employees want to be. The facade concerns me. I’ve never thought of it as particularly attractive, but it’s one of a very few examples of mid-modern architecture in the downtown area. Do we want everything to look like it was built in 1897?
Also slipped in about that same time, was the news that Tim Hill has acquired the parking lot between the Century Building and Mast General Store where he plans to build a six-story retail and condo development. I hope to learn more about that.
Two potential/planned restaurants are the source of a number of questions directed my way: J.C. Holdway and the Lonesome Dove concept restaurant owned by Tim Love. Tim Love indicated last fall that he would have a version of his Love Shack restaurant adjacent to or near his restaurant planned for the “no later than the spring of 2016.” The plans as reported by the News Sentinel sound grand. It’s been a year since I first heard their intent and so far no obvious construction has begun. Maybe summer?
J.C. Holdway is still on, as far as I know, for the Daylight building, though I’m as surprised as anyone that the construction there hasn’t begun. It was slated for a winter opening, that became spring, now it’s spring. Here’s hoping it’s soon and I’ll let you know if I learn more.
A couple of things of note have happened on Magnolia. First, the long rumored possible move of the Greyhound station became an open discussion with their announcement. The News Sentinel article indicated they need a “smaller footprint” and that they’ve had “brief” talks with the transit center.
I agree the bus terminal needs to move, but I hope one thing happens and another doesn’t. I hope the building is preserved for a new use. I think it is very cool and refurbished would be excellent for use as another business. What I hope doesn’t happen: That they use the transit center. I do not believe that would be a good marriage.
Also on Magnolia, Marie’s Old Town Tavern has moved from 202 W. Magnolia. A set of apartments will soon be built adjacent to the building, so something was likely to give. The new location is just off Central Street a couple of blocks from Broadway, near Striped Light. Arguably, both this and the Greyhound move can be seen as gentrification of the area. It probably is, but it seems inevitable. Areas change and this one is changing in a big way.
The World’s Fair Park has seen a change of sorts that I don’t think I’ve seen reported elsewhere: the Amphitheater has gotten a makeover. After some months with the seats removed, new, nicer seats have replaced them. What isn’t as visible is that the green rooms/areas beneath the seats have been improved. At over 1200 seats (by my count) and (mostly) sheltered, it seems like an ideal spot for a concert series. I’ve seen a number of shows there over the years (Buddy Guy/Robert Earl Keen/Fastball/Clarence Gatemouth Brown/KSO/Dylan Birthday Bash) and it works really well. Here’s hoping.
I also get asked weekly about the status of the restrooms in the Market Square Garage. I asked Rick Emmett for a progress report on that and the alley project behind Market Square. He told me a bid is in place for the restrooms, but a construction contract and approval of that by city council are needed. That done, construction should start sometime next month and completion should come by the end of spring. The Strong Alley project is a little further along, with a contractor in place. It involves a “complete rebuild of storm system and possibly some other utility” work, but it should be completed about the same time – around the end of May or early June.