In the last couple of years the downtown area has grown tremendously with new businesses, new venues, and even a movie theater. Business owners credit the Callaway Foundation with saving the area.
Tulla White opened his first restaurant over 10 years ago. He says family members discouraged him from opening in the area.
"My mother said absolutely do not go downtown. There's no parking people can't get to you, it's going to be a headache," says White.
White says the first several years were tough since the downtown area closed very early.
"When I say the sidewalk kinda rolled up after 5:00pm, it was pretty slim pickings during those times," says White.
Speer Burdette at the Callaway Foundation says downtown needed a change of pace.
"I mean there's no question that in the early 2000's even the mid 2000's that if you came downtown after 5:00pm there was no parking problem because there were no cars," says Burdette.
The 300 space parking garage is just one of the many projects in which the Callaway Foundation invested to help revitalize the downtown area.
The Callaway Foundation started several projects like upgrading sidewalks and streets. They also purchased an old building, renovated it and gave it to the city.
"We gifted that project to our downtown development authority who would own it and receive the lease income from those projects in perpetuity to help fund ongoing projects in our downtown," says Burdette.
White says there were several times he thought about moving from downtown, but is pleased with the millions of dollars the Callaway Foundation spent to upgrade the area.
"Was it easy to put together? No. Was it quick? No. Were there some hard times? Yes there were. But overall I think that the Callaway Foundation with everybody else that's been involved, I proud of it for sure," says White.
Burdette at the Callaway Foundation says local entrepreneurs also helped the area. He says the next step for downtown is renovating Body Park to create an amphitheater there.
1350 13th Avenue
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