By BRADEN LAMMERS
Construction surrounds it, historic buildings line it, it is home to a number of local businesses and now, across the country, it’s been recognized as the street of the week.
Smart Growth America has named Spring Street in Jeffersonville its street of the week for this week. Each week, the nationwide nonprofit selects one street in the country for the honor. Smart Growth America advocates for people who want to live and work in great neighborhoods, according to its website. The coalition works to develop smart growth solutions that support businesses and jobs, provide more options for people to get around and make it more affordable to live near work and the grocery store.
“It’s the heart of our community,” said Jay Ellis, executive director of Jeffersonville Main Street Inc. of Spring Street. “This is an example of what other downtowns in America are trying to accomplish. We’re making extra efforts to maintain and preserve that special place downtown. I think the city, and Main Street [Inc.] and the merchants can take pride in that.”
Ellis added Jeffersonville Main Street has hosted several workshops on Smart Growth and brought former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Hylton to Jeffersonville to explore design solutions that add to the area’s appeal. He said by focusing on quality of life issues the hope is that the area will continue to attract businesses and people interested in relocating downtown.
One of those businesses that has already made the move downtown is VIP Quality Awards and Gifts, which relocated from Clarksville to 409 Spring St. in late August.
“When we started our business we actually wanted to be in downtown Jeff,” said Sandee Potts, co-owner of VIP Quality Awards and Gifts. “There were no buildings suitable to fit our needs.”
But one of the places Potts liked to go on walks with her husband, who is the co-owner of the business, was Spring Street. On their regular strolls through the historic downtown corridor, they found a location they thought would work. Off and on it had a tenant, but recently the couple saw it was vacant and Potts happened to know the Realtor, so she gave her a call.
“We actually had been looking in the windows for at least two years,” Potts said. “It turned out that it was something we could work with,” she said referring to the price and the space.
There was also room to bring their son into the location with his business, VIP Screen Printing.
“I’m already impressed with what happens down here ... that I didn’t know happens down here,” Potts said. “We’re getting walk-in traffic that we didn’t have. I feel like I’ve come to Mayberry.”
The promise of expansion around the area is also bringing attention to Spring Street and downtown Jeffersonville.
“Spring Street doesn’t just exist in a vacuum, the businesses and nearby residents add to that,” Ellis said of the area’s ambiance and character.
The promise of the completion of the Big Four Bridge, Big Four Landing — the two-block park that will surround the bridge landing — Chestnut Street reconstruction and plans to construct more businesses and housing around the historic downtown district is expected to draw a new array of visitors to downtown to enjoy Spring Street, Ellis said.
Since moving their business to downtown Jeffersonville, Potts said she’s been able to visit local restaurants, gift shops and hair salons — a variety of businesses that are unique to the area that gave Spring Street a hometown feel.
“I think it’s awesome and I think it’s deserving,” she said of the award. “People need to come down here and experience that if they haven’t already.”
ON THE WEB
• For more information about Smart Growth visit smartgrowthamerica.org