Makeover of uptown Jackson almost done

Friday, November 20, 2009
Matt Mueller of Mueller Brothers Irrigation places cobblestone brick pavers Friday on the east sidewalk of High Street in uptown Jackson. (Kit Doyle)

Just a few weeks remain until one part of uptown Jackson completes a makeover just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Since Sept. 8, crews have worked on streetscape improvements on a section of High Street between Main and Adams streets. Improvements include historic lighting, cobblestone sidewalk pavers, benches, bike racks and trash receptacles.

Project engineer Tom Strickland hopes the project will serve as a catalyst for business activity in the uptown area, which has buildings dating back to the 1880s.

"Talks have been on and off for years about how to give uptown a historic look," Strickland said. "We received the grant from MoDOT a few years ago that provided us with the funds to begin what will be complete next month.

"I'm hopeful once the project is complete that people will appreciate the improved street and we'll have more people come to uptown for shopping," he said. "Revitalized downtowns have a tendency to bring in more people to an area."

Today crews are expected to complete laying cobblestone at the corner of Main and High streets. Strickland expects the light poles and benches to be installed and parking spaces along High Street to be restriped by early December. The west side of High Street will maintain its parallel parking while the east side will change to angled parking, adding seven spaces, a change Jackson Mayor Barbara Lohr said will be a welcome change for merchants and shoppers.

"Merchants have long asked for more parking in that area, so I am sure they are happy about the additional parking spaces being provided," Lohr said.

Until this week, when Main Street was closed so crews could work on the section of Main and High streets, only one section of High Street remained open. While some merchants along the street said their sales have decreased since the project began, they are excited about the new look of the thoroughfare. All businesses have remained open during the construction.

"I hope it adds to the character of what the area already has," said Marsha Van Gilder, an employee at The Andrew Jackson Bridal and Tuxedo, 102 High St. "Once people see the flowers and light poles, we hope it will leave an impression that they want to return here to shop again."

Lisa Walker, who owns High Street Station at 106 High St. with her sister and mother, hopes the improvements will increase business activity for area merchants.

"This will spruce up the area and hopefully spark interest in Jackson," Walker said. "While we wish the timing would have been better and work on the project would have started after the Christmas shopping season, finding the perfect time isn't easy. It is what it is, and you have to make the most of it."

Future improvements may include installation of historic replica lighting, crosswalks and banners along Main Street from Missouri to Hope streets. But funding could be hard to come by, Strickland said.

"Though we don't have the funding, we're hoping that it will come in the future," Strickland said. "It's just hard to predict when that money could come, especially with the economy."

Merchants like Palmi Henry, owner of Lil Miss Muffin and Stuff at 113 W. Main St., said including Main Street in the next phase of revitalization makes sense.

"It's one of the main streets in our city, so extending it to here would be a tremendous move," Henry said. "But for now, the current renovations can only make that area better. And it will add to that small-town feeling we have here in Jackson."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent addresses:

101 Court St., Jackson, MO

106 High St., Jackson, MO

102 High St., Jackson, MO

113 W. Main St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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