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downtown dwellings
by Audrey Hanes, photography by Amy Long

Downtown Jonesboro is ever-changing, growing and evolving as more businesses, restaurants, retailers and dreamers make the official Main Street America community their home. With that growth comes the need for new downtown dwellings, and many of the area’s supporters have stepped up to the plate to make that happen.

Four new groups of residences are currently under construction in the Downtown Jonesboro area. Once completed, 29 new lofts and six townhouses will be available to those looking to make downtown their home.

“With the addition of (those) lofts and townhouses being added to the downtown area, it means great things for Main Street,” said Hailey Knight, the executive director of the Downtown Jonesboro Association. “Adding to the 100 that already exist – and stay full – it means more students, retirees, even families can call Downtown Jonesboro home. It means people are eating, shopping and engaging in downtown events.

“Studies have shown more people are choosing to live the downtown lifestyle, so having projects that are meeting our demand for residential space is fantastic for Downtown Jonesboro. We hope this is the first of many, many more.”
Other developments and additions to the downtown area are helping make it even more of a desirable destination to work, play and live, such as St. Bernards’ multi-phase project to expand and upgrade its facilities, which will be completed in 2019, and new businesses such as Eleanor’s Pizzeria, Doe’s, Amy Reeves Photography and Jessica Holland Photography.

There are new cultural additions to the area, as well. Knight says that two new murals are going up in the 200 block of Downtown Jonesboro, one located at 211 Union Street and one on the wall of 212 S. Main Street. Artists Beau Jones and Tolik Rayevskiy celebrated with a ribbon cutting on May 31. A new project, the restoration of The Globe mural, once located at 301 S. Main St., is also set to begin soon and should wrap up in the fall.

“Efforts between the Downtown Jonesboro Association and the West End Neighborhood Association will begin on May 31, and (we) will promote their project all through the summer,” said Knight. “The Globe mural was originally restored back in the early 2000s by Vince Pearcy and was a prominent mural back in the ‘30s on the side of the Globe Drug Store. Hidden by paint presently, a Globe Drug Store sign was originally painted in 1920 on the north side of Kimono’s Japanese Restaurant.  In 2007, Vince Pearcy restored the advertisement for the City of Jonesboro. Once the restaurant purchased the building in 2011, the owners painted over the restoration. The Globe Drug Stores stands as a staple of historic downtown Jonesboro.”

Knight says that as early as 1890, according to Sanborn maps, the structure at 300 S. Main St. housed a drug store. The 1890 Sanborn map is the earliest available for this area. City directories confirm this; in the earliest Jonesboro city directory available, from 1906, The Globe Drug Store is listed.

411 Union
Mike and Kristina Ebbert are longtime supporters of Jonesboro’s downtown area. Their businesses, Ebbert Properties and Ebbert Insurance Inc., are both located downtown, the couple lives downtown and they are passionate about sharing what makes the area special with others.

The Union Street location was previously home to Eden Medical Spa, Noah Children’s Boutique, two other businesses and three lofts before a fire in 2015 decimated the building. For months, the building sat empty, and many in Jonesboro pressured the city to tear it down. Because the building had a historical presence in the downtown area as the former City Water & Light location in the early 1900s, the Ebberts decided to take on their biggest project to-date and renovate the building into several lofts and a business that will employ more than 50 people.
The historical significance was a large part of why the Ebberts decided to renovate and revitalize 411 Union.

“Back in the ‘80s, my brother, Bill Ebbert, Hardy Little and Bobby McDaniel were the first ones to really come in and revitalize downtown,” said Mike. “We have always hated when they tore down some of the neat, older buildings in the area. We don’t have as many old structures as we used to when I was a child.”

Four engineers came in to make sure the building was safe structurally, and that’s when the real work began. The couple worked closely with Jim Little, as well as with Michael Arrant, the project’s head carpenter, who had previous experience living in and working on the building itself. Mike says that Olympus Construction literally put the roof back on the building after the fire destroyed it and left the building open to the elements for many months.

“We have several stand-alone houses, as well as apartments,” said Kristina of Ebbert Properties. “We always go in and renovate them, but it’s on a much smaller scale and not from scratch. Still, it helped prepare us to take on such a huge project like this. We have our four-man crew who have been with us before and we brought them on this project, and we are all working to put this building back together again.”

Currently, the three lofts on the second story are complete, two of which are already occupied. The lofts spaces are large and open with vaulted ceilings – two of which each have two bedrooms and two bathrooms – and each is styled a bit differently.

“We tried to do them all totally separate so they’re like a little community,” said Kristina. “But, even though they all have a different style, they all have huge walk-in showers and closets, soaking tubs, side-by-side washers and dryers, all that. I wanted to achieve different tastes for different kinds of people. … I designed the rustic loft (#3) like my home. The building is industrial, so I used that for #1. For #2, I just created a calm, relaxing atmosphere.”

“Kristina did all of the interior design work,” added Mike. “She is a nurse by profession, but she was available to do this. We did things a bit different. We didn’t go crazy buying $5,000 appliances. Our focus was on giving our renters more space and on making them each a bit different so they’re not cookie-cutter.”

That focus on space was the reason that the Ebberts chose to turn the upstairs into three lofts instead of four or five.

Up next is the space for Rural Sourcing Inc. (RSI), an IT outsourcing company, which will relocate to 411 Union and will occupy the building’s entire first floor and half of the basement. Mike says RSI should be in by the first week in July.

“We were fortunate enough that RSI had a space issue,” said Mike of why RSI chose to relocate from its existing downtown location. “We knew they were looking and thought the building would accommodate them. We toured their facilities in Mobile, Alabama, and we came to figure out this would work great for them.”

As for the other half of the basement, the space will either be used by a retail business or turned into two additional lofts. The Ebberts plan for the building to be fully occupied by Thanksgiving.

Other historic touches include exposed brick, rustic wood beams and wood floors, and there are plans to reconstruct an old awning out front that will be made to look like pictures of the building’s former City Water & Light days. The Ebberts have already installed one mosaic with their company’s logo and have plans to install another inside the RSI lobby; mosaics are a part of the entryway to many of Downtown Jonesboro’s more historic storefronts.

“We are doing everything we can to preserve and protect our downtown culture,” said Kristina, who also serves on the DJA board. “We need to keep it going. With Doe’s and Eleanor’s and all these new places opening downtown, the area just keeps growing, which is what we want – we want people down here.

“We are fully vested in downtown. It’s why all our properties are down here. We feel like it’s the heart and soul of the community. It’s important to put your money where your mouth is and support your community. We live downtown. We practice what we preach.”

For more information about 411 Union, call (870) 932-3841 or email Ebbertproperties@gmail.com.

East Street
Located off East Street in Downtown Jonesboro, Ted Herget’s new development will house 13 lofts for those looking to make a move to the thriving area.

Herget, who previously lived downtown with his wife, Amanda, for 12 years, is the owner of Gearhead Outfitters, a successful outdoor lifestyle business with locations across several states, and is known locally for having a real vision for Downtown Jonesboro. The business owner is passionate about investing in the community and helping it continue to grow.

Herget worked with Newell Design on the renderings, and construction began late last year. Eleven of the lofts are two bedroom, two bathroom, and two of them are one bedroom, one bathroom. Each loft also features its own garage, a perk that is in high-demand in the area.

“We do not have enough housing downtown,” said Herget. “You could put another 200 units there and keep them full. That’s what makes those areas thrive. Heads and beds; you just have to have people living in the area.”

The local entrepreneur’s interest in and development of the downtown area is not slowing down any time soon. He has said that he is working on a dog park that will be located on Cate Street, as well as building more townhouses to sell in the spring of 2018.

For more information, call Jonesboro Realty at (870) 932-0000.

The Wesley
When George Stem’s grandson, Hayden, first saw that the former Massanelli Laundry and Cleaner’s building at 222 Union St. was for sale, he knew it would make for a great loft space. George brought in his partners, Sean Stem and Ryan Kibler, and his wife, Janice, to check it out, and the group decided they were up for the challenge of transforming the space.

“We’ve done a lone of construction projects around Jonesboro,” said George. “We decided we wanted to be a part of the growth of the downtown community, and we couldn’t think of a better way to do that when this property became available.”

George purchased the well-known building and set out turning it into 11 lofts in the heart of Downtown Jonesboro. He worked with architect Jim Little of Little & Associates, designing the lofts, covered parking and two roof-top decks. Janice oversaw the design elements of the project, going with a modern look with beautiful cabinetry, trendy accents and a nice improvement to the façade.

As a unique touch, the Stems worked with Gateway Engineering to create an app that is unique to The Wesley. The app allows residents to be relaxing on the rooftop deck while they buzz in their friends, and no keys are required to live or park there.

For more information about The Wesley, call (870) 972-5632.

Madison Place
When Mat and Heather Clark recently had a chance to purchase 311 W. Huntington, they jumped at the opportunity.

The property, which Hispanic Community Services Inc. currently calls home, also included a large area of land next to the building. The combined space will allow the Clarks to develop six new row houses. Each home will be two stories with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, spacious living areas and a private backyard space with a deck.

“Downtown is the heart of the city,” said Heather. “It is the place to eat, shop, live and play. Every successful city has a thriving downtown, and the only way to have a thriving downtown is to have people living downtown. So, Mat and I are doing our part to make that possible.”

Their focus is on providing affordable housing to those wanting to live in the heart of Jonesboro, an area they’re passionate about continuing to revitalize.

For more information about Madison Place, call (870) 243-8223.

To learn more about the Downtown Jonesboro Association and the many upcoming projects and properties in the area, visit downtownjonesboro.com or find it on Facebook.