By Morgan Bryce
Construction of two major developments is underway in downtown Opelika.
Richard Patton sat down with Observer staff to discuss the projects and how he believes their presence will benefit Opelika and its downtown for years to come.
“A part of downtown but with its own unique flair”
The first project, a yet-to-be-named space located within the Cotton Warehouse District at 1st Avenue between the 7th and 8th street blocks, features three confirmed businesses: 10,000 Hz Records, Griff Goods and Resting Pulse Brewery.
Patton purchased most of the historical structures in that district from Penn Montgomery, between 2006 – 2007, with the intention of creating a viable entertainment hub for downtown Opelika.
“The idea has always been there, but it’s been hard finding the right people. We could have filled it with lots of things, but things we didn’t feel like were beneficial for downtown,” Patton said. “We wanted to make a space that wasn’t just being used for storage or collecting but rather a spot that would add to the quality of life for people here in Opelika.”
Russell Baggett of 10,000 Hz Records said he and his wife, Hannah, started their business last spring, participating in pop-up events across the Opelika-Auburn area. He said that their main focus is providing the public with access to the most recent vinyl releases, which span the electronic, folk, funk, rock and soul genres.
“We have a little bit of everything in our selection. We don’t have every single release that comes out each week, but what we try to have are things that our customers like and want to listen to,” Baggett said.
Griff Goods owner Abby Griffin said she will design and produce men’s clothing at her shop, as well as provide unique gifts and accessories not found locally.
“The products I source are either from brands I’ve read about or have stumbled upon while traveling, things that leave a lasting impression on me. I intend on stocking really unique brands that I hope you’ve never seen before,” Griffin said. “I’m pretty serious about sustainability, especially when talking about the fashion industry. Everything I produce will be ethically sourced and carefully constructed, so you know you’re getting the best product.”
Next-door neighbor Sarah Gill, owner of Mama Mocha’s Coffee Emporium, said the space will enhance the art scene and overall culture of downtown Opelika.
“As one of the business owners on the block, I am so grateful for these changes on 1st (Avenue) that will flood Opelika with art, music, artisan craft and good people investing in community. As a community member and resident, hallelujah for revitalization and complimenting growth for historic downtown,” Gill said.
Other businesses and features will be announced in coming months. Baggett’s shop is projected to be the first shop finished, with a tenative opening date set for mid-July.
“Living in downtown”
The second project, “Southside Opelika,” will include the construction of a new subdivision in the historic Southside neighborhood, which was established in 1854.
Seven homes will be constructed along South 8th Street and Avenue D as a part of the development’s first phase, replacing the existing structures Patton and city officials alike deem as “too far beyond repair.”
“We’ve got a lot of great things going on in downtown Opelika, but I think we need to add a lot more residential walkability. That’s the main focus or selling point of this project: living in downtown,” Patton said. “People ask me who we’re marketing this to, and I tell them, ‘it’s not an age graphic, it’s a demographic of people who want to be able to walk downtown, eat out, shop or get a drink.’ We want to market to downtown people, so it doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 90; if you’re a person that likes walkability and getting out and your backyard is the downtown, that’s who this product is for.”
According to Patton, the homes will be built in an architectural style that mirrors other houses in the neighborhood. He added that salvageable materials from the old structures will be incorporated into the design of the new homes, and that trees will not be cut down on any of the lots unless it is a necessity.
The project’s two other phases will consist of four townhomes and 21 condominiums. The condominiums will be constructed a block over at the dead end of Avenue D between 9th and 10th streets.
Patton, along with fellow co-developers Andy and Hunter Anderson, Jacob Hill and Mark McKenzie, said final price points and additional information about the homes will be released later this week.
For more information or updates on the two projects, email Patton at email@example.com.