The Richmond Register

Local News

July 12, 2014

Leaders agree on importance of downtown

RICHMOND — Why is Downtown Richmond important to the future of the community?

We asked a few city and county officials as well as business leaders and found them all to be excited about Richmond’s city center for a variety of reasons.

Tonita Goodwin, who directs Richmond’s industrial development efforts answered, “When I have industrial prospects come to visit, they always want to see downtown. They see it as the heartbeat of a community.”

She said Richmond has a great chance to showcase itself when the Kentucky Association of Economic Development meets here in April.

“We have so much to build on,” Mendi Goble, Richmond Chamber of Commerce executive director. “Good things are happening here.”

Rose Rex, the city’s Main Street coordinator, credited the Downtown Richmond Association board of directors with coming up with creative ways to boost downtown businesses.

“They are fully supportive of events that bring more people Downtown and more people are coming to dine, to shop and to enjoy,” Rex said of the board members.

Rex invites anyone interested in becoming involved in downtown Richmond to attend the association’s general meeting Sept. 18, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., at the City Hall.

Andrew Jones, a local businessman who chairs the chamber of commerce’s Urban Renewal and Development Committee, said he would like to see people of all ages be able to live, work and play in a walkable area such as downtown Richmond.

This is the committee’s vision, he said. “We want to revitalize Downtown, create more jobs, increase revenues and bring an overall sense of well being to our community.”

The committee meets at the chamber office on Main Street every two weeks and all interested people are invited. The panel is drafting a strategic plan for further development in the eight block downtown area as well as working to forge public/private partnerships.

In addition to Jones, the committee includes Colleen Spencer, Joe Kersey, Tonita Goodwin, Stuart Spencer, Jeremy Jackson, Mendi Goble and Monica Kidwell.

Joyce Green, president of the Business Babes Society of Madison County, said the “Business Babes are women business owners who are proud to be participating and supporting the new vision for downtown Richmond. With the development that is taking place and the people who are committed to the task, this is sure to bring opportunity to the entire area.”

Madison County Judge/Executive Kent Clark said he has high hopes for a proposed annex to the Madison County Detention Center behind the courthouse on Irvine Street. Several state and local offices are located on Irvine Street, including the city’s main fire station and the U.S. Post Office and the courthouse annex.

Clark said the county must address overcrowding at the jail, which routinely houses 80 to 100 people more than its capacity.

Clark’s proposal is to build a 100-bed facility with a new kitchen on county-owned property next to the present detention center where the historic Miller House once stood. The new addition would be connected to the first and second floors of the present jail. A new kitchen is needed because the  25-year-old kitchen is inadequate and out-dated.

If built, the detention center annex would replicate the facade of the Miller House, a Federal-style brick building constructed about 1818. The present detention center’s facade also would be renovated to resemble the Miller House.

“By keeping our state prisoners here instead of paying to house them elsewhere, we could save enough money to pay the debt service on the new addition,” Clark said. The proposed addition could be a 20-year solution to the overcrowding as well as meeting the requirements of Kentucky Regulatory Statutes, he said.

Business on Irvine Street

Irvine Street and its neighborhood isn’t just offices and government buildings. Among businesses on the street is Hensley Custom Auto Trim, started in 1946 at another location when Troy Hensley’s dad was 19. In 1976, Troy bought the business from his dad and has been in business at the corner Irvine and Church street for 20 years.

A new business will open Tuesday just a stone’s throw from Hensley’s business. Paul Morin has lived in Kentucky for 18 years, but he’s still fond of the genuine Texas barbecue he grew up eating. And he want’s to share it with his Kentucky neighbors.

His Straight from Texas Bar-B-Que will be serving Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays next to his wife’s hair salon at the intersection of Third and North streets.

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