Downtown district not far off for Selma

Published 9:35pm Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It’s a cool fall day and a long afternoon of entertainment awaits in Selma’s bustling downtown.

I wait for a bus at the intersection of Church Street and J.L. Chestnut Boulevard and ride it to a Water Avenue stop.

The bus is crowded. It seems like every other Selma resident had the same idea.

After disembarking, I meet up with friends at the historic St. James Hotel. We grab a drink, or two, or three. The hotel’s bar is packed. I’ve just grabbed a drink, but I can barely move. The crowd is spilling out onto the street. There’s surely no place to sit in the bar and the exterior is far too crowded to relax.

Instead of hanging around, we walk to the Selma Riverfront Amphitheater, where several bands are playing this afternoon. Many of the bands are local, but several have made the trek to Selma to take part in this fall festival.

The bands serenade the crowd of several thousand with the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Alabama River as the background.

It’s fun, but after several hours, we decide our thirst must be quenched again.

We return briefly to the St. James before noticing that Arts Revive is having an art show and continue our afternoon of fun on the west end of Water Avenue.

Luckily, Arts Revive also has refreshments. My stomach is roaring like an angry lion.

It’s 6 o’clock and the sun is begins to dip below the western horizon. With darkness creeping and temperatures dropping, we wrap up the day and take a bus back to Old Town.

Selma’s downtown can’t quite make my story a reality presently, but with a little hard work from city officials and residents it may not be far off.

If Selma can find a way to make all of its downtown treasures to work in unison, city officials’ could fulfill their dream of creating an entertainment district.

The city council recently passed a security ordinance for downtown clubs, but security won’t significantly improve the amount of people frequenting downtown establishments. The issue is excitement.

Residents need to be excited about downtown business. City officials can help by enacting ordinances that are beneficial to an entertainment district.

Businesses can also help.

If events were held at downtown establishments with increasing frequency, it would draw more residents into the heart of the city and improve the chances of an entertainment district being successful.

Perhaps a monthly market day could be a start. Local vendors could bring vegetables and artwork. With a stage set up on Water Avenue, bands could provide entertainment.

Businesses could stay open to provide food and refreshments.

But two large, unaddressed questions loom. What are the boundaries of the entertainment district? What do city officials want to see to declare an entertainment district a success?

Before we can evaluate success, we should know what we are striving for.


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