Progress was the center of discussion at the Columbus Rotary Club’s weekly meeting Tuesday as Main Street Columbus Director Barabara Bigelow described the various businesses moving into empty spaces downtown.
The former Stone Hotel, across the street from the Princess Theater, has been renovated by Chris Chain — owner of Renovations of Mississippi — and converted into open space for individual work and businesses. Chain has also added 18 new apartments, all of which have been rented but one.
Tom Velek of TGV Properties, LLC has completed the renovations of the 322 building on Fifth Street. He has created retail space on the first floor and three new apartments, bringing the total number of apartments in the downtown area to 205.
“Apartments downtown draw traffic,” Bigelow said. “We were fortunate in the ‘80s when people began to revive their downtown and then we had Chris Chain who felt at that time — and has proven true — that if people are living on the second floors, it will draw traffic and business downtown and there will be foot traffic and car traffic.”
Sunday Local Church is leasing the Princess Theater from property owner William Lawrence. The space has been renovated as a cafe — which will serve casual foods such as pizza and burgers — and venue space.
A new beauty shop called the Hive will open in July on 422 Main Street and is managed by Rosario Carrillo and Amber Davis-Scott.
Zachary’s Tavern on Fifth Street is being renovated and converted into a fine-dining restaurant by Doug Pellum.
In her speech, Bigelow also touched briefly on the impact of this year’s Market Street Festival as well as the events still to come.
“We plan events with the purpose of drawing people to our downtown, all Main Street associations do that,” Bigelow said.
This year’s Market Street Festival — Main Street Columbus’ main fundraiser — was the first festival since 2017 to be graced with clear skies and a light breeze. The beautiful weather played only a small part in the remarkable festival turnout.
“We had more visitors, arts and crafts vendors and food vendors than we’ve had in the past,” Bigelow said.
Not only did the number of vendors increase, but the children’s area has expanded and almost doubled in size. The festival is expected to further expand the children’s area next year.
“It is a great festival. It is enjoyed by many people and we are just so fortunate to have the support of everyone in Lowndes County,” Bigelow said.