Opportunities remain downtown

Published 6:16 pm Saturday, June 1, 2013

I want to apologize for the following statement ahead of time.

There are only 205 shopping days until Christmas. That’s right. ONLY 205 days remaining.

Shocked? Nervous? Frantic?

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Don’t be, you’ve got plenty of time. And thanks to the continued development of Selma’s business community, there are plenty of options.

Over the past few weeks, we have all seen a number of new businesses open downtown, offering unique items, unique shopping experiences and bringing to life some of the more beautiful downtown buildings Selma has to offer.

I’ve also noticed the work El Ranchero is doing on expanding their location, taking on an additional building space, and refurbishing what is potentially another great structural treasure.

Having had the chance to walk in and purchase items from many of these stores, I am continually impressed about the hidden architectural treasures many of these stores display. Whether it is gorgeous brickwork or pressed tin ceilings, the beauty of Selma is slowly but surely starting to once again break through.

And, I would be horribly negligent if I did not compliment the efforts of the Selma Historical Preservation Society in their project to stabilize, save and refurbish the historic Old YMCA building on Broad Street. No longer do I wake up in the morning thinking this might be the day we write a story about that building falling in on itself.

Their work — in conjunction with Lovelady Construction — has been tedious and historic in itself.

More of Selma’s beauty and refurbished treasure was on display two weeks ago, when ArtsRevive hosted the annual StreetFest. It was not only a display of Selma’s dynamic art culture and appreciation, it was a display of what could be accomplished when a group of strong-willed, dedicated people come together with a mission in mind.

The restoration of the ArtsRevive Carneal Building never ceases to amaze me and it is hard for someone who is not originally from Selma to ever think of that building anything other than what it is today.

And, it’s great to hear the news that Tom Bolton has plans for riverfront apartments in the Safelite building. Those apartments should have some great views and sunsets.

But while there are plenty of examples of things changing for the better — and there are many more than what I have mentioned — there are just as many other buildings and locations that are problems; should I say opportunities for improvement.

I have mentioned them before in previous columns and the newspaper has pointed a finger at them in numerous editorials, so I will avoid names today, but some of Selma’s most historic (and largest) buildings are in desperate need of loving owners and tender care.

One such location I will mention in closing that is both improving and still a “challenge” is the Bienville Park, located on Water Avenue.

In a nice email conversation back and forth with Ward 3 councilman Greg Bjelke Friday, we discussed the work completed and needed at the Bienville Park on Water Avenue.

While appreciating the work of moving the monument from its once sinking location, we discussed the need for additional work to stabilize the park, fix the walking path and ensuring the park can be enjoyed for decades to come. His commitment to getting the park restored was appreciated and I can’t wait to enjoy a fall afternoon sitting on the brick wall, looking out over the Alabama River.

Now back to the Christmas shopping, and I can at least check one thing off my list.

“Task No. 1: Figure out how many shopping days are left until Christmas.”

Yep, that one’s done.