Atmore downtown revitalization action plan unveiled at theatre

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The talk of Atmore is going to be obvious real soon.

Officials with McClure Engineering unveiled the action plan to help revitalize downtown Atmore on Wednesday in front of a packed crowd at the Strand Theatre.

For the past two months, Zach Mannheimer — principal community planner with McClure — and engineering officials have been working on ideas of how to take the Strand Theater and bring it back to life. Mannheimer has visited Atmore several times over some five months getting feedback from the community on what it would like to see downtown.

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The action plan centers around the Strand Theatre and the two properties on either side — the former hardware and Radioshack stores.

“Atmore is perfectly positioned geographically to take advantage,” Mannheimer said, adding that once the effort is complete, people will begin to make their way here.

Mannheimer said the action plan, which is split up into three sections covering four buildings, is the culmination of ideas from the community.

“This is a guide,” he said. “This is an action plan.”

Mannheimer said the plan can and will more than likely change over time, but it will take between 12-24 months to come to fruition.

Additionally, McClure collaborated with Rolin Construction Co. to determine the cost of the action plan, and a firm in Pensacola, Fla. for the design.

The action plan breakout by building is as follows:

Strand Theatre

• Keeping the theatre as a movie theatre, showing classic and independent films

• Better technology inside of the theatre

• Widening the stage at the front

• Renovating the lobby area, including raising the ceiling, widening the lobby area, renovating the ramp leading into the theatre and renovating the restrooms and concession areas

• If possible, making a balcony area that can seat 20-30 people

Former Hardware Store

• Make the store a live music venue

• Included in the open space is a culinary prep area, seating area

• Space is utilized in flexible manner to hold many events, including comedy shows, poetry readings, open mic nights

• The upstairs of the hardware store would hold five spaces for classes, including educational, a dance studio, sound recording studio and an artist residency program

• The Atmore Area YMCA would work in collaboration with the space to offer its programs there as well.

Radioshack Building

• First floor to be a pizza parlor/bakery

• The first floor of the building next to it will be for a children’s interactive zone

• Upstairs on both buildings could house a maker space

Mannheimer talked about the overall cost of the renovation revitalization project, and recommended different ways to raise the funds.

“In conclusion, this is entirely realistic,” he said. “This project should envelop the community.”