With over a century of history as an important railroad town, in the last two decades, Opelika has been reborn as a community-oriented city, a dynamic local commercial center, and a tourist destination.
Historically, downtowns such as Opelika’s used to serve as an important central commercial district and cultural hub for local communities. Opelika has been rebuilding its historic downtown as part of a national revitalization program. Local community leaders and businesses have joined together to create a sense of place and collective memory. Communities help bring people back together.
Downtown Historic Opelika has also focused on preserving the city’s past by maintaining the historic appearance of its buildings. With the revitalization of Opelika, residents and visitors can park their cars and stroll around the pedestrian-friendly historic district, enjoying the charming railroad town atmosphere that surrounds them.
Local business owners have seen Opelika as a great opportunity to celebrate the town’s historical heritage while forging a new future.
Some of the revitalization efforts have come along with the new and old businesses that are located downtown. This is the case for Richard Patton.
Patton, who has lived in Opelika most of his life, is the developer of some of the downtown properties that are now occupied by businesses such as Good Griffs, Sneak and Dawdle or Red Clay Brewery. “This is a district of artisans doing really unique things, whether that’s beer or fashion or coffee or draft cocktails,” said Patton, who also said that the Opelika community and the city work with new businesses to help them open and succeed in their dreams. “It’s an easy atmosphere and you have so much assistance.”
Downtown Opelika has experienced big growth in recent years, but there are still some buildings that need some love and affection, Patton said.
Opelika is full of diverse and creative people. It has a great school system and a supportive community, a community that works hard to make sure the unique character of their hometown is preserved and enhanced by local art, great food and a cool space for everyone. The great atmosphere Opelika radiates is what brought Dale Vaughn to open his business office in downtown Opelika. Vaughn went to school at Auburn University and in 2004 moved to Opelika, where his wife is from. He is the owner of V3 Media Group, web design and digital marketing business located in a historic building at 8th Avenue.
When looking for the perfect place for his business, Vaughn found in Opelika a “corporate-ideal revenue stream” and the quality of life that he wanted and couldn’t find in big cities. “The advantage for us is more for ambiance, for the employees to enjoy the space they are in every day,” said Vaughn. Being in an environment like Downtown Opelika, which stimulates creativity, was the perfect match for V3.
The growing downtown offers high-quality restaurants and shops that continue to expand. “It is fun being right here.”
With the ongoing revitalization process and increase in business, the diverse group of shops, restaurants, retailers, and offices have made it possible to cover everyone’s needs. From coffee shops that open at 6 or 7 in the morning to retailers that open at 9 or 10, restaurants available for lunch and dinner, and a growing vibrant nightlife, living in Opelika is more exciting now than ever.
If you are thinking about opening your own business downtown or moving to Opelika with your family, you will fall in love with the creative atmosphere that historic Opelika and the group of amazing businesses there bring to the city.
Come and visit. After all, Downtown Opelika sells itself!
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