Reasons to celebrate, reasons to work hardPublished 6:42pm Saturday, March 15, 2014
This has been a pretty good few weeks for downtown Selma. If nothing else, there’s been plenty of people finding out — some for the first time — what downtown Selma can mean, and does mean to Selma.
During Jubilee, vendors from throughout the country lined three blocks of Water Avenue, providing great food, music and entertainment to the thousands who visited.
A day after Jubilee ended, on Monday, dignitaries from around the state and the country converged on beautiful songs of Selma Park for a dedication ceremony placing historic plaques on the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge.
And, to cap it off, the Alabama River Chili Cookoff returned to its home on Water Avenue, bringing with it 40 competitive teams and well over 1,000 hungry visitors.
And, all of this doesn’t even include the countless visitors to ArtsRevive’s art show and those coming downtown who were in Selma for the annual Pilgrimage.
The Times-Journal is located in the heart of Selma’s downtown at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
It is our home and we are tremendously proud of what has been done in recent years to bring downtown Selma back.
The work in 2010 and 2011 on the Selma Interpretive Center, the streetscape project on part of Water Avenue and the revitalization work by some building owners along Water Avenue — specifically the amazing transformation of ArtsRevive’s Carneal Building — are all things to truly celebrate.
But, there is far more to be done.
The St. James has the potential to once again be the anchor for downtown redevelopment. But, right now, it is far from its once former grace.
Shingles have fallen loose, paint is peeling away from the building and some windows appear broken and loose.
It is our hope the city can find a partner for the hotel to give it — and downtown Selma — the chance it deserves.
The expected work later this year on another streetscape project on part of Water Avenue is another promising development, but details appear to be slow in developing. With the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday upcoming, it would be a shame for that work — and other work — not to be done in time.
The eyes of the world are coming to downtown Selma next March. There’s no denying the crowds and notable figures who will take part in next year’s Jubilee.
It would be a shame if the heart of our beautiful city wasn’t at its very best when those visitors came to down. In the end, a lot of work has been done and that work has paid off with some impressive results, but there is plenty of work left. And, if done, just imagine what the return on that investment could mean to Selma.