Beltline corridor development continues to grow
The new year brings with it new businesses to Decatur, continuing the move to fill a “restaurant gap” to keep revenues local in the River City. Three established brands – Lawler’s BBQ, Cheeseburger Bobby’s and Chicken Salad Chick – each announced in late 2017 plans to create a footprint in our market. Lawler’s and Augusta, Ga.-based Cheeseburger Bobby’s plan to open in spring 2018 in a newly constructed six-store development on Beltline Road Southwest between Cracker Barrel and Honda of Decatur. Chicken Salad Chick, founded in 2008 by Auburn entrepreneur Stacy Brown, opened Feb. 20 in a newly built outparcel adjacent to Decatur Mall. Each business represents a successful brand recognizing our strong business community as an opportunity for growth.
Ride sharing rolls into Decatur
Uber and Lyft – the two largest operators in the ride sharing industry – have added Decatur to their expanding service area. After working with the City to navigate ordinances relating to vehicle-for-hire services, both companies launched in late 2017 to serve local customers during the holiday season, as well as began accepting local residents to their roster of independent contract drivers. By downloading the user-friendly app to a smartphone or logging in to a company website, users are able to travel on demand 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Ride sharing, an amenity until recently only available in large metro areas, shows the continued interest in new ways to alleviate traffic congestion, be environmentally aware and provide transportation options preferred by younger professionals.
Cook Museum investment doubled since groundbreaking
The Cook family announced near the end of 2017 the investment in the 62,000 square foot Cook Museum of Natural Science had doubled to more than $32 million. The project, scheduled to open in late 2018/early 2019, has added since its inception a 15,000 gallon saltwater aquarium, life-like cave structures and other exhibits to capitalize on market research suggesting the museum will attract more than 200,000 visitors annually to the city center. Also, as part of their agreement with the City, the museum is renovating and plans to maintain the large city parking lot across the street for public use. The Cook family, the City and other civic and community partners have collaborated to create a dramatic educational resource for north Alabama and the southeast. The landscape of downtown Decatur will be changed for generations to come.