Business -almost- as usual

Warehouse shops remain open, prepare for summer street sale as First Avenue streetscape project continues

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As the City of Cullman’s First Avenue streetscape project moves forward, Warehouse District businesses will remain open for normal hours. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Many have noticed that downtown Cullman is taking on a vintage feel, with the appearance of a gravel road through the Warehouse District. The change is only temporary, though; as First Avenue undergoes a streetscape renovation and utilities upgrade, businesses remain open and accessible, and the City has stated they will remain that way, even if things are a little inconvenient at present.

The Tribune talked to City officials and a local business owner to get an update on the First Avenue streetscape project and its impact on local retailers.

Standing alongside the gravel-covered avenue, Cullman City Engineer Erica York told The Tribune, “This is going to be just short-term, in support of a long-term project, which is our Warehouse District streetscape project. It’s part of a TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program, funded through the Alabama Department of Transportation) grant-funded project that is to enhance beautification in downtown areas. 

“In this project, what’s going to encompass this particular project is everything from sidewalk to sidewalk. So that’s going to include the road, as well. We’re going to have brand new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-accessible sidewalks, as well as a new paved street. At each crosswalk, you’ll also see some enhancement as far as brick paving crosswalks and cobblestone intersection. Then we’ll also see a lot more enhancement on street lighting, as far as decorative light poles, and string lighting over the merchant district. Then the landscaping areas are going to be enhanced, as well. We’ll see more accessibility, as far as handicap ramps. The other new part is going to be our centerline drainage, so where it was draining to the curbs, now it’s going to be draining to a centerline drain.”

What’s happening right now with the gravel road?

York continued, “Why you see the roads tore up right now is because, in support of this, we were able to actually upgrade our utilities, which includes upgrading our main sewer line, as well as our water line and all service connections to each of the buildings. We were able to enhance the utility structures, as well.”

Contractors will work on one block at a time, starting with the block in front of the Festhalle, working up to intersections to keep them open as much as possible. 

Businesses remain open and busy

Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA) Retail and Workforce Development Manager Susan Eller told The Tribune, “We want everyone to just know that these merchants are going to continue to stay open. What we’re asking for you to do is bear with us during this time. We will still have our parking on the north end of the Warehouse District in between there and the Festhalle. You’ll also still be able to use the parking lot behind the Cullman County Museum. We’ll actually leave these streets open.”

Construction operations will be scheduled to impact traffic and businesses as little as possible.

Lynsey Todd of Monograms Plus talked to The Tribune about doing business during the project. She said that, like other business people in the area, she is not particularly happy about the dust, gravel and general inconvenience, but is excited to see what the completed project will bring to the district.

Said Todd, “I think we’re all excited about the end result, as I think most of our customers would be. It’s going to be inconvenient for a little while, just like any kind of remodel or house remodel or anything like that. But we’ve seen plans for the end, and it’s supposed to be really pretty, and we’re excited about having the lighting over the street, and a little bit more accessible sidewalks and that kind of thing. So, we are excited for the end result.

Warehouse District summer street sale coming soon!

Todd also shared about the upcoming Warehouse District summer street sale, telling The Tribune, “It was supposed to be this weekend, but if y’all have seen the weather, you know that we have some tropical storms that are coming in, so we have postponed that to next weekend.”

The street sale will take place Friday and Saturday, June 12-13. Hours will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Todd said, “Most of the merchants here will be participating, and they will have sales up to 70% off, so lots of good deals and bargains out on the street next weekend!”

For more on happenings in the Warehouse District, visit www.facebook.com/cullmanwarehousedistrict/.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com