Steps taken toward fulfilling downtown vision for 2026

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 11, 2018

This time two years ago, city officials and members of the community were meeting at The Studio to discuss the future of Troy’s historic downtown district.

Many ideas and suggestions came out of that series of meetings – façade improvements, street trees, sidewalk repair, better lighting, more parks, downtown apartments, etc.

While there are still many years left before 2026, which is the set goal for the suggested improvements, much has already been completed or begun in the first two years since the plan was officially approved by the City of Troy.

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Melissa Sanders, planning and zoning administrator, said the plan isn’t a task list for the city; rather, it is a master guide for the development of the district by both public and private entities.

“For example, we can’t redo people’s buildings for them,” Sanders said. “That’s something they have to decide to do themselves.”

And they have, Sanders said. Multiple business owners downtown have already decided to revert to a more historic façade while other property owners are also considering making improvements to the faces of their businesses.

Another private investment into the plan is business owners deciding to start shop in the district.
The Square has seen much improvement in this area, Sanders said, even with some businesses closing up, others have stepped in right behind them to keep the Square vibrant.

Sanders also said there has been success in bringing apartments and short-term rentals downtown.

“There’s several apartments downtown as well as short-term rentals now being offered,” Sanders said. “The short-term rentals bring tourism, new faces to frequent the businesses and restaurants and our arts center – all the wonderful activities we have going on downtown. But we also have more stable residents that are there everyday that are going to be a part of downtown. They have it right at their fingertips and having that activity downtown helps with its vitality.”

Rob Oliver, who rents out both long-term apartments and short-term rentals downtown, said it is an exciting time to be downtown and that there is a real thirst from people visiting Troy to stay and play in the area.

The city has also made investment into the district, and they have done much of it with the help of outside funding.

The Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grants from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) have allowed the city to replace sidewalks downtown at a fraction of the cost already, with many more grants already lined up to begin more renovations in the near future.

The City recently completed phase one of the Downtown Troy Sidewalk Improvement Project, which included new sidewalks, decorative pedestrian lighting, and landscaping on sections of N. Three Notch Street, W. Walnut Street, E. Church Street, S. Oak Street, and Love Street.

Phase two of the project is currently in engineering and construction is estimated to start in 2019, which includes new sidewalks, decorative pedestrian lighting, and landscaping on sections of S. Three Notch Street, and W. Church Street, and S. Market Street. The City will also be placing a few more benches and trash cans around downtown soon.

Both of these phases help movement downtown by creating a more pedestrian-friendly area while also contributing to an improved appearance downtown.

The city has also seen infill development in the area including Troy University’s purchase of the former Regions bank building, which the university will transform into the “IDEA Bank,” a combined living and learning space for entrepreneurial students on the campus. It will also house the Small Business Development Center.

Connecting the campus to downtown is another major component of the plan, and actions have been taken to improve the linkage between the university and the district.

The TAP 2016 project will create a multi-use sidewalk along Park Street from Elm Street to Madison street will also work towards implementing the Downtown Plan by working on the pedestrian and bicycle link between the University and Downtown. The university has also just launched a bike-share program on campus that will provide the opportunity for more students to grab a bike and ride to the Square.

Despite all of these changes, Sanders said it is just a glimpse into the work that has been done since the plan was implemented.

“There is so much work behind the scenes by property owners, business owners, community volunteers, organizations, citizens, and governmental entities that all of the hard work that everyone does for Downtown Troy may not be seen or known about,” Sanders said. “As the saying goes, it takes a village. We are proud of our village and what we as a community can and have accomplished.”­

The downtown plan can be viewed at