Two things seem to get your attention, dirt moving and sold signs. We have seen a good bit of activity in both over the past few weeks. Much of the activity is centered in a few block area in downtown Statesboro. I caught up with Downtown Statesboro Development Authority Director Allen Muldrew to discuss recent activity.
The one that seems to garner the most interest is the sold sign on the building that formerly housed the Plunderosa thrift store beside the Georgia Southern University City Center complex. The business has been closed and the building has been on the market for years.
The DSDA has acquired the building and they are working in conjunction with Georgia Southern University with plans to expand the City Center campus. The City Center houses the FAB Lab and the Entrepreneurial Center. Both have proven to be very successful and are reaching capacity.
The goal with the expanded space is to move the FAB Lab and businesses in the Entrepreneurial Center who are growing and need more space but are not at a point that they can operate in a stand-alone environment.
The project and expansion is dependent upon a grant the two entities have applied for with the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. The grant would accelerate the project. There were a few stipulations in the grant including that the building had to be not only identified but in the agencies control that is applying for the grant. They hope to know by early December if they are awarded the grant.
“This is a critical piece of property in downtown that we have had our eye on for some time,” Muldrew said. “We are optimistic that the grant will be approved allowing Georgia Southern to build on and expand the success of the City Center. If the grant is not approved, we are working on alternative plans to create an exciting project which attracts students and entrepreneurs alike into our core downtown district.”
Jaxe + Grace
Directly across the street, at 65 East Main Street, local realtor Nick Propps has acquired the building that formally housed Doodle Bugs. Propps has completely renovated the building and Jaxe + Grace Boutique has relocated there from South Main. Jaxe + Grace is locally owned by a military family In addition to the bricks and mortar store, they have a great web store at www.jaxeandgraceboutique.com.
Eagle Creek Brewery
Across Railroad Street, the popular Eagle Creek Brewery just celebrated their fifth anniversary with a successful block party. Eagle Creek added lunch last year and their Shrimp and Grits has been recognized as some of the best in the state. This is another great locally owned and operated business downtown. Franklin Dismuke owns the business and his sister Kimbie Dismuke Brown and mother Gail Dismuke work in the business daily.
Sugar Magnolia Bakery
Beside Eagle Creek Brewery, extensive renovations are ongoing for the reopening of Sugar Magnolia Bakery. A local Statesboro couple purchased the business and hope to have it open in time to welcome back the GSU students and faculty. Their plans are to build on the past success of the bakery bringing new enthusiasm and ideas. You can follow their progress at www.facebook.com/SugarMagnoliaBakeryCafe.
Just down Vine Street from Sugar Magnolia, Northland Cable Television has completed the demolition of their building and are working on site prep to begin construction of their new office complex. They have temporarily moved their offices to 127 North Main Street, Building B, beside Farmers and Merchants Main branch.
Statesboro Dog Park
A few short steps down the Willie McTell Trail you will discover Statesboro’s first dog park, which they hope to have a soft opening for soon. Robert Seamans, Steets and Parks superintendent for the City of Statesboro and his team have been busy preparing the park. They have the created a parking area off Cherry Street with parking for approximately 20 cars. They have the site work complete and installed fencing.
They are now working on landscaping, which eventually will include 30 trees, benches, swings and trashcans. Youth Leadership Bulloch has been a key sponsor of the project. The DSDA is selling bricks and working to find individuals and businesses to help sponsor other additions to the park, such as a dog watering station and a pavilion. To follow the progress of the park and to learn how to sponsor or help go to www.statesborodowntown.com/downtown-dog-park.
Lastly, the two vacant lots on Bennett Street between South Main and Fair Road that back up to Uncle Shugs on Main were sold to the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority and the Blue Mile Foundation. This property will be used for future expansion of the Blue Mile district. No immediate plans are in place for the property.
It is great to see such progressive, long-term plans coming together in our beautiful downtown. The DSDA, Blue Mile Committee and Georgia Southern University understand that having a vibrant downtown that attracts citizens to live, work and play is critical to the growth and success of our community.