Re-development is coming to downtown Bessemer - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Re-development is coming to downtown Bessemer

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BESSEMER - AL -

The Jefferson County Jail in Bessemer has re-opened.  The facility had been closed for four years. Monday around 200 inmates were moved back into the facility. County leaders closed the jail in 2009 because of Jefferson County's financial problems. 

Businesses surrounding the Bessemer courthouse and jail say they have felt every bit of impact from each of the county's financial decisions. While many store fronts are still vacant, there's a re-development bringing new opportunities to downtown Bessemer. 

"We think one thing improves another," Jimmy Koikos, Owner, Bright Star Restaurant said. "It'll keep Bessemer back on the rise."

Jimmy Koikos owns the award-winning, 107 year old Bright Star Restaurant sitting just steps away from the county buildings.  He says the loss of lunch time traffic made an impact.

"We just hated it for downtown Bessemer," Koikos said.

Monday, sheriff transport vans carried a couple hundred inmates back to the Bessemer jail. For longtime business owners, added deputies down the street, means a restored sense of security.

"I think we have 45 deputies that are coming down here so it will be a lot of great security," Koikos said.

...Even a few new tenants...

"Downtown Bessemer is coming back,' Koikos said. "We've had 3-4 new businesses to open up."

Ronnie Cook helped start one of them.

"As far as business growing, people are willing to support you around here, especially at a business like ours," Ronnie Cook, Manager, Happy Dog said.

Just two months ago, the Happy Dog moved into this empty storefront.

"50-60 hot dogs during lunch - Everyday we be down there," Cook said.

In fact, every day they park their cart in front of the courthouse.

"We like to have fresh soft hot dog buns for Happy Dog," Cook said.

And re-opening the county buildings adds even more county workers to their budding business.

"A lot of lawyers stop by when they're in a hurry and get a quick dog," he said.

"The town has lost a lot of business, but bringing businesses back to Bessemer makes it a better place to stay," Jerry Pratt, a Bessemer resident said.

"Bessemer's coming back and it's coming back strong," Koikos said.

 

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