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New Albany’s Main Street Revitalization enters next phase, completion expected around August

A barricade divides New Albany's Main Street, with one side of the road under construction.
Aprile Rickert
/
LPM
New Albany's Main Street Revitalization project is one step closer to completion, with work now starting on the north side of the street. The south side of the street, shown in the right side of the photo, was nearly finished at the start of the week.

New Albany’s Main Street Revitalization project is entering its final phase and is expected to wrap up around August. Some local business owners impacted by the monthslong construction say they’re excited to see its completion.

For the better part of a year, it’s been difficult to access the local shops and restaurants along and near Main Street in New Albany due to ongoing work on the sidewalks, roadway and underground infrastructure.

Some business owners have said it’s impacted sales — including around the holiday season many rely on for a big chunk of their annual revenue.

But as the project turns a corner, some say they’re happy to see the end in sight and that they believe it will be an improvement to the area.

The project includes widening the sidewalks and adding benches and lighting, as well as updating electrical, gas and water utilities.

The initial phase started in 2014 and included several blocks of the eastern part of Main Street. Work on the current section began last year.

Stevie Carper owns the New Albany Sugar Shoppe at the south corner of Main and Pearl streets. She said the past year has been tough, but business has started to pick up recently now that the sidewalks near her shop are built out.

She said the progress means there will finally be street access to her store for the first time since last summer.

“It’s going to be beautiful. I'm really, really excited about it getting done,” she said. “How long it takes is, I guess, part of what it is. But if I can make it through this, I can make it through anything, right?”

Carper was one of multiple local store owners who participated in a small business loan program set up earlier this year by One Southern Indiana, the area’s chamber of commerce.

The program was among several options local leaders explored to help the struggling businesses stay afloat during construction.

“That was a huge help for me,” Carper said. “It helped me get caught up on our expenses.”

Late last year, the New Albany City Council also looked into whether American Rescue Plan funds could be used to directly support the businesses. Attorneys working with the city said they could not. The council approved $20,000 earlier this year to go toward a marketing campaign with SoIN Tourism and Develop New Albany to attract people downtown.

Community members also helped support the local shops through a GoFundMe set up last year.

Dan Hardesty owns Eureka! Menswear on the same side of the street as Carper.

He also said he welcomed the opportunity presented by One Southern Indiana.

“Our goal is to not spend any of it if we don't have to,” he said. “But it's nice to know that it's there in case.”

Mayor Jeff Gahan said he knows business owners have been frustrated, but disruptions like this are part of major projects and he’s glad to see the project finishing soon.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, adding that improvements on the south side are now visible.

“People can see it and I think they’re optimistic. [I] won’t say they’re happy yet, because it’s still messy, but we’re getting there.”

Gahan said once complete, the renovations will improve the downtown shopping experience and add to the overall unique character of New Albany.

“When this is finished, I believe it will be one of the best historic business districts in the state of Indiana,” he said.

Hardesty, at Eureka! Menswear, said he’s excited about the transformation of the area and to know completion of the other side is now in sight, despite the challenges he and fellow business owners have faced.

“I think it's going to be a nice addition,” he said. “We've weathered the storm on this, and I think we've kind of figured out how to maneuver things a little bit better.”

The city provided more information on the project in a recent video update on Facebook. Gahan also said the sidewalks on both sides of the street will be open for this weekend’s Derby Sip & Shop event hosted by Develop New Albany.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.