In the News: Russellville Council orders for downtown study

Originally published in the Times Daily.

William Nale said he loves to look at the work going on downtown, and think about how some old, dilapidated, empty buildings are being refurbished buildings and new businesses are popping up.

“It really looks good downtown. We have people who are investing in our downtown and others who are interested,” Nale said.

Mayor David Grissom and City Council members have done all they can to make the downtown area attractive in an effort to recruit businesses.

“It seems to be working,” Grissom said. “We have loft apartments downtown, a new restaurant going into one of the renovated buildings, and some new businesses.”

The council recently secured a grant from the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Association for a survey of downtown buildings to see if they would qualify to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Which would mean a 20 percent tax break for owners or developers renovating these buildings,” said Grissom.

The council has hired Phil Thomason and Associates of Nashville, Tennessee, to do the study at a cost of $9,850. The grant is paying for half the cost, the mayor said.

“Anything that can help attract more people to coming and getting involved in the downtown rehabilitation is a plus,” said Matt Cooper of the Russellville Downtown Redevelopment Committee. “If some of the buildings can be placed on the historic register, if should be an incentive for developers and owners to do something with the buildings. That’s our hope.”

Thomason said the study will include a survey of all downtown buildings that were built before 1967.

He said the study will included a written description of each building that could fit the criteria for being added to the historic register.

Thomason said in other areas where his company has worked, getting buildings on the National Historic Register has “helped revitalization efforts.”

“We look forward to coming into Russellville and doing the study there,” Thomason said.

He said it will take a number of months to get the study completed and get the nominations to the National Historic Register.

“Once we get our part completed, we will turn this over to the Alabama Historic Commission for a decision. When we get their approval, it will be submitted to the National Historical Register,” Thomason said.

“It’s really great to see all of the changes going on downtown, and I really believe if we can get more buildings on the historic register and get the tax break, more renovations will be done,” Nale said.

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