A new view of old downtown

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By Nathan L. McBroom

While Patrick Rymer and Ray Wadsworth are at work, they have one of the best views of downtown Shelbyville to be found.

Three-stories up in their hydraulic cherry picker, the two men can be seen just about every day of the week scraping and painting the exterior of buildings on Main Street. In the last couple years, the men have restored the outside of eight buildings in the downtown area.

Along with freshening up the paint, Rymer has also made restorations to many of the trademark second-story windows in downtown.

Whether looking out from his cherry picker or gazing down from a second-floor window, Rymer said the view of Main Street is a beautiful site.

And if Eilene Collins has anything to say about it, many more local folks will live and work with that view right outside their window.

Collins, the executive director of the Shelby Development Corporation, is hoping that an event later this month will get the word out about the commercial and residential possibilities that exist in downtown Shelbyville.

The SDC will host "Up the Downtown Staircase," on Tuesday June 24 from 5-7 p.m. in an effort to make the public aware of the second floor spaces on Main Street. Collins said a large number of spaces are currently available which could be used for apartments, office space or other commercial ventures.

The self-guided tours will include stops at locations that have already been renovated are in use, such as Family Court Judge John David Myles' office, in order to give the public an idea of what the second story space could be used for. The tour will also stop at other locations, which, with a little bit of TLC, Collins said, make wonderful investments.

Along with pointing out the property that is now on the market, the event will also provide the public with information about tax incentives, available financing, real estate values, and renovation logistics for downtown spaces.

The event is free and light refreshments and local wines will be provided.

The SDC is hoping that many of the second floor spaces on Main Street will be renovated as living areas or office spaces in the future. The event is being held in conjunction with a statewide initiative by the Kentucky Heritage Council to encourage downtown revitalization. Collins said across the nation and the state there is currently a national trend towards downtown living.

Collins said as more businesses move into to the city center, downtown living will also be on the rise. She said downtown commerce and living work in tandem.

With gas prices continuing to skyrocket, Collins said being able to live, go out to eat and find entertainment within walking distance is becoming very attractive to more and more folks in the community.

Along with the economic benefits, Collins said living together engenders true community.

"Where we are physically close together, we become a community," she said. "Closeness builds community."

Collins and other event organizers envision a market, several restaurants, and entertainment opportunities all in the downtown area in the future.

"It could be all right there downtown," she said. "You wouldn't have to get in your car, you could just walk there."

And as the downtown continues to be revitalized, walking in downtown will be half the pleasure.

If you go

"Up the Downtown Staircase" will start at 721 Main St. where information and refreshments will be available from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 24. Guests can take self-guided tours of marked downtown spaces. For more information, call the SDC at 633-5029.