DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Dothan officials finally unveiled major plans on Monday to change the face of downtown Dothan. They call for doing away with the current civic center.
It was around a year ago that the city brought together a group of 100 people who live, work and play in the Dothan to brainstorm their dreams and visions for downtown.
A brand new arena that will replace the 50-year-old Dothan Civic Center. Renovations to the Dothan Opera House and a brand new cultural arts center are all part of Dothan’s big plans to bring the city into the future.
There are two major components to this project:
- The open space
- New civic buildings and private development
“We are at a crossroads preparing to embrace growth and opportunity as we have never seen before,” Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba said regarding Dothan’s plans.
The new arena, which would be built where the current Dothan Civic Center, officials said will be a state-of-the-art facility that would seat up to 6,000, double the size of the current civic center, and be used for concerts and small conferences.
“The time for transformational thinking to take Dothan to the next level is now,” Dothan’s City Manager Kevin Cowper said.
Connected to the new arena, the Wiregrass Arts and Innovation Center, which would be located in the building where the city administration offices are currently. This will be a three-story building, with 40,000 feet of space. In it, a new cultural center with art exhibits, a theater, a studio, a gathering space, and offices.
“That will be our legacy to our children and our grandchildren who all of us that have those things, children and grandchildren, who want to work back to live work and play in the city of Dothan,” Saliba said.
A new ‘Event Street’ will be built in front of the Civic Center — to connect St. Andrews Street and Museum Avenue it will be open to traffic but will also have the ability to be closed off for additional space or events.
On just the other side of ‘Event Street’, a brand new parking deck. This will be built to accommodate the 300 parking spaces that will be lost due to the development. The city also plans to build new retail shops in that parking deck.
“This is our vision, this is our dream, this is our opportunity, Dothan this is our time,” Cowper said.
Right across the street, is a new three-story lobby that connects to Dothan’s Opera House. This will provide space for gatherings and new bathrooms. The city said these renovations will give the Opera House a presence on Main Street.
The city also wants to make Main Street welcome people versus sending people away. They envision a new gateway to downtown from the east, it would have a new roundabout on Museum Avenue.
“In another 100 years from now future Dothan residents will say the same if we pull together and make it a reality,” Saliba said.
The building where Dothan Utilities is at will be completely done away with. This is in order to make space for a new amphitheater, which will allow the city to have events without closing down Foster Street.
The ally way behind Birds & Beans and other Foster Street shops will also be transformed into a green space, a walking space.
“We are at a place to make big and bold decisions that can transform our community, but it’s going to take our whole community. It has to be a partnership,” Saliba said.
They hope to bring in private development as part of the plan. That could include a possible new luxury boutique-style hotel with 90 to100 rooms. The city said even more shopping and restaurants could be added to this new structure.
Dothan would also like to see apartments and condos come downtown as part of the private development.
The first phase will consist of the renovations to the opera house, event center space, and pedestrian connectivity.
City officials envision starting the project in different phases and securing the funding as they go. The funding will be from a variety of sources, with federal grants being part of that money.
According to officials, this project will not happen overnight. They said it will take both private and public partnerships in order to bring this vision downtown.
The city has launched a new website to provide information regarding the plans for downtown. You can visit that website here.