Daphne undertaking multi-year downtown improvement project

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 9:14 AM CST
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DAPHNE, Ala. (WALA) - The city of Daphne is looking for ways to make its downtown more appealing to business and walking traffic. A plan is underway to address those issues and more, but it won’t be cheap and will take several years to complete.

Old Town Daphne has a unique and inviting charm that city leaders hope to emphasize even more with a facelift along about a mile stretch of Main Street. The planned changes will be between Lott Park on the north end and Potters Mill to the south. The work will be done in several phases, the first and most expensive being relocation of utilities, underground.

“This is something that look, every administration has always talked about and this area has always talked about. The main thing is underground utilities, trying to get those underground,” said Daphne Mayor Robin LeJeune. “It beautifies the area…so what we did is say, okay, if we’re going to have this type of expense, well what can we do to really enhance our downtown area?”

Street side parking will be added along with sidewalks down both sides of Main Street. The entire streetscape could take up to four years to complete. The goal is to make Old Town Daphne more appealing to both businesses and visitors.

“We want this to be a very walkable, business-friendly area and we think this is a great way to do that and it will entice businesses to come down here and really add to the character of downtown,” LeJeune explained.

To make these improvements without having to expand city right-of-way, the center turn lane on Main Street will be removed to make room for the sidewalks and parking within the existing footprint. That’s appealing to many business owners in the area.

“We’re excited,” said Lesley Hendon with Pop & Pour Party Co.

“Yeah. We’re excited for any growth that they have planned,” agreed Hendon’s business partner, Jena Yeager. “We absolutely need more parking. We need more accessibilities with the sidewalks.”

“More parking and putting utilities underground, I wholeheartedly support that,” added Larry Chason with Chason & Earle Real Estate. “I do want us to keep the character of Old Daphne as unique as it is.”

The anticipated cost for the whole project is expected to be in the neighborhood of $12 million. The city has already approved spending the first $800,000 to get the engineering work done. That alone will take about a year.