NEW ALBANY — To Rob Dunn, Pints & Union is an example of everything that’s going right in downtown New Albany right now.
As he cradles a murky porter in the bar’s upstairs loft, he crows over the quality of the new establishment.
It’s set in an older, renovated building — just the sort of project that Develop New Albany, the organization of which Dunn recently became president, likes to promote within the city.
Pints & Union, owned by Louisville restaurant scene veteran Joe Phillips, could be a trendy hangout in any of the best parts of the metro.
“I’m glad that he chose here,” Dunn said.
New Albany’s restaurant scene is vibrant, with several new and renovated businesses opening within a few weeks of each other: Pints & Union, of course, but also Dragon King’s Daughter and Longboard’s Taco and Tiki — all located along or adjacent to Market Street.
As the new president of Develop New Albany, which is the city’s Main Street program, Dunn wants to continue to usher the downtown in the right direction for years to come.
Dunn replaced Teresa Baxter as president two months ago. Develop New Albany leaders typically serve in the role for one year.
“He seems to be engaged,” said Baxter about Dunn. “And, you know, really … he seems to have a good handle on wanting to grow our membership.”
Baxter will continue to serve next to Dunn on Develop New Albany’s board this year.
The organization’s three goals as Dunn describes them are to promote New Albany’s downtown, preserve its historic aspects and to partner with local businesses.
Dunn, who joined Develop New Albany’s board in 2015, remembers driving through New Albany in 1991 and seeing shuttered businesses in the city's downtown.
Today, that’s not the case, but Dunn doesn’t think it’s time to just kick back with a beer in perpetuity.
“We’re in good economic times right now,” he said. “I think it’s important that all of us as community leaders, community members and businesses in the city government and all of these agencies, that we capitalize on this time. Because if not, when the downtime comes, it’s not going to be as good.”
There are still areas of the downtown that could be improved, Dunn said, although he declined to name exactly where. Dunn wants to continue to build relationships with the property owners in those areas and to keep his eyes on new concepts that could take over.
Develop New Albany is working on bringing a park to one lot in the downtown area, although a deal hasn’t been worked out with the owner yet.
In addition to that, Dunn wants to continue to grow his organization’s roster of member businesses and to figure out what they want Develop New Albany to do for them.
Recently, the organization donated several thousand dollars to Town Clock Church and the former Baity Funeral Home to turn it into a grand office building.
“I think we do a lot of great things,” Dunn said. “I think we provide a lot of value.”