Did you see what’s new in Downtown Laurel?

Southern Antique Facade Grant ProjectThe building blocks of a beautiful downtown aren’t just in the buildings and the shops housed within their walls. When all of the elements are in place, a seamless appearance takes shape and we come to recognize the new-found beauty around us, but it is the small differences that work together like individual brush strokes in a breathtaking work of art.

Over the past few months we’ve been working toward a better future for Downtown Laurel, and we’d like to invite you to take a moment today to take it all in with us.

Each of these projects were funded through the Facade & Amenities Grant. The Facade grant is funded through many of the Laurel Main Street events and projects and through direct donations.

Laurel-Jones County Library Mural

Laurel-Jones County Library Mural Laurel-Jones County Library MuralThe mural, currently in progress, was skillfully designed by Erin Napier of Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence, located in Downtown Laurel. Erin and her husband Ben are active in all of Laurel Main Street’s projects and have served on several committees. You might know Ben as our lovable Loblolly Festival Lumberjack! Erin’s incredible design work has been featured in wedding magazines all over the country including Bride’s Magazine and Martha Stewart Weddings.

Kevin Jones of Laurel is painting the mural which features a famous quote by Ernest Hemingway, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

The mural funding was provided through the 2014 Touch A Truck event. This year’s event will fund a project to provide new landscaping behind the Gardiner Center on Carroll Gartin Blvd in order to improve the appearance of this important area of Downtown Laurel.

Oak Street Pocket Park

Oak Street Pocket Park Downtown LaurelOak Street Pocket Park Downtown Laurel
Many downtown regulars and residents are familiar with the breezeway next door to the United Way building on Oak Street in Downtown Laurel. Recently, the city removed the rotten wooden roof in order to make the area safe and to bring some much-needed light to the highly trafficked passage, which leads to a large parking lot used by many who live and work downtown.

Through funding by a private donor and the LMS Facade & Amenities grant, the area is being converted into a “pocket park” which will feature new landscaping, lighting, picnic tables and more to come!

The park, located just 2 doors down from Lee’s Coffee & Tea, provides a great spot to enjoy a quiet lunch!

New Downtown Bike Racks

Downtown Laurel Bike Racks Downtown Laurel Bike RacksIn everything we do, we want to be sure to look towards the future as well as the past. As more and more people come to live within downtown, or within the Tri-Parks Historic district, it has become increasingly important to provide amenities for those who choose to ride their bicycles into downtown. As bike lanes become a part of future street upgrades, we want to be sure we are providing the accommodations you might expect from a larger community, right in Downtown Laurel.

Two black metal bike racks have been installed and are ready for use! The first, located in Trustmark Park, is just a short distance from many Downtown favorites such as Cafe La Fleur and Southern Antique Mall. The second is located on Commerce Street directly in front of the Laurel-Jones County Library; a perfect spot for those riding their bikes into downtown to check out a few new books.

New Downtown Trash Receptacles

Mayor Johnny Magee is beginning a new campaign to clean up the streets of our beautiful city. We are joining the cause by providing 8 new trash metal trash cans to be placed throughout Downtown Laurel. The beautiful metal encasing can be locked to prevent overflow from residential trash or misuse.

The old trash receptacles will be transferred to several of our city parks to help extend our efforts to keep our city beautiful!

We’d love to hear what you think about these changes coming to Downtown Laurel! Reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter now!

Laurel entrepreneur seeking to build a vibrant downtown, one booth at a time

Story by Ethan Davis, LMS Intern and Bethany Byrd

Imagine opening a business in a viable, expanding market with little to no risk or overhead.

That is Andrea Milham’s vision for local entrepreneurs: high return with low investment.

Andrea is the incredibly successful owner of Laurel’s own Southern Antique Mall, and her dream is to build a vibrant downtown one business at a time, and Laurel Main Street wants to help her do it.

Humble beginnings & restoring the past

Andrea could not always claim to have a business that attracts visitors from across the southeast.

What began as an idea and a single $20 shelf in a building she adored became an entrepreneurial passion.

With her single shelf she saw an opportunity, not just for herself, but for so many others like her – to build something out of nothing, to test out their dreams without risking everything.

The first step towards Andrea’s dream was to purchase the Southern Antique mall and to restore and rebuild it into a magnificent jumping-off point for the dreams of others. She knew she needed to create a uniquely modern/historical appeal inspired by her love of the classic buildings in Downtown Laurel, where she lives and works.

Southern Antique Mall Before Facade Renovation

Like Andrea, Laurel Main Street believes that the restoration of our beautiful, historic downtown buildings should be a carefully guided process driven by a desire to restore their original luster while also appealing to modern cultural tastes.

Andrea and LMS looked to Erin Napier, a nationally renowned graphic artist, owner of Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence, Laurel native and LMS member, for help in guiding the design process and helping Andrea find the perfect graphical touches for new signage on both Central Ave and Magnolia St. Bill Holloway, an architect and former LMS vice president, gave careful advice, guidance and encouragement on many of the implemented improvements and restorations.

The Laurel Main Street Facade grant helped Andrea to pay for her building’s new signage and serves to motivate and encourage entrepreneurs just like her to help restore Downtown Laurel to its original luster and to push it forward into an even brighter future.

With the guiding hands of two of Laurel Main Street’s finest, the LMS Facade grant, and Andrea’s own personal tastes, passion and drive, her building came to life with a grand new facade and stunning new signage.

Restored and ready for growth

Southern Antique Mall After Facade Renovation

Now, both old and young come to a place that’s anything but a stuffy antique store. Gone is the dim lighting and grunge stereotypical of an old building. The newly-restored windows allow ample sunlight to shine on the beautiful wooden floors, and once-sealed doors now open onto Central Avenue.

Besides streamlining influxes of people, the new doors permit entrance through the street connected to Southern Antique’s actual physical address, and one of downtown Laurel’s busiest thoroughfares.

The artfully arranged booths are now showcased in what is now one of Downtown Laurel’s finest buildings. From artwork to antiques, one-of-a-kind treasures to long-awaited designer pieces, Southern Antique Mall has become the hub for tiny businesses in Downtown Laurel. But it doesn’t stop there!

southern-antique-laurel-main-street-facade

Southern Antique Mall New Sign on Magnolia, St

Antiques, art and a new facade are just the beginning

The bigger picture is Andrea’s vision to create a vibrant, business-filled Downtown Laurel.

She has eliminated the largest obstacles to growth—overhead, investment, risk—and constructed a system of safe increase.

One low fee is all it takes.

One fee – no employees to manage, no utility bills, no property taxes, no fear of trying something new.

Andrea is inviting you to test your big idea, to build and create, to see where your passion takes you.

Then, just like Andrea, from shelf to booth to store. Maybe the next LMS Facade Grant will be yours – restoring your very own downtown treasure to it’s original luster, and presenting your now-proven idea to the world.

Southern_Antique_Mall_Central_Ave_Laurel_MS

It’s happening now

Andrea’s dream isn’t some far-away, unachievable vision – it’s happening, right now. Soon, the downtown bookstore you’ve all been waiting for will be opening inside the Antique Mall, and your favorite Farmer’s Market baked goods are now offered weekly.

The Bake Shop by Julie ShowsLily Trest's GranolaStop by every Thursday to pick up some of Julie Shows’ wonderful baked goods and some of Lily Trest’s delicious granola treats.

These are examples of two ideas being tested and futures being imagined. Without debt or risk, and with ample time to build awareness and interest in their products, these two businesses could find new homes in their very own buildings soon.

But first – time for their ideas to grow, and a beautifully restored place in which to do it.

Have an idea for a booth? Contact Andrea at 601.426.2322 or reach out to her on Facebook, or come visit her at the Southern Antique Mall on the corner of Central Ave. & Magnolia St., Downtown Laurel, Mississippi.

Do you, like Andrea, have bigger dreams for your downtown building? Click here to learn more about the LMS Facade Grant.