City of Andalusia unveils plan for downtown renovation project

Published 5:45 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The City of Andalusia announced plans Tuesday to develop the historic downtown Prestwood Building and partner with CDG Engineering, Big Mike’s, and Town and Country Boutique. The building, which dates back to the late 1800s is located on the west side of the court square.

Mayor Earl Johnson said much of the success in Andalusia in recent years has been the result of public-private partnerships. “The Constitution of Alabama through Amendment 725 gives us the authority to partner with private entities for economic development. We have a number of those partnerships in place and because of those partnerships, we have been able to preserve a number of our historic buildings and grow local businesses.”

Members of the Andalusia City Council are shown with Mike Cole of Big Mike’s. From left are Mayor Earl Johnson, Councilman Joe Nix, Councilman Kennith Mount, Councilwoman Hazel Griffin, Councilman Ralph Wells, and Mike Cole. Not shown is Councilman Terry Powell.

Johnson was delighted to announce new partnerships that will bring new energy to the downtown area. “I am particularly pleased that these new partnerships will preserve and restore the Prestwood Building, where we currently are today. When I first returned to Andalusia to practice law in 1974, I worked right here so this place is very special to me,” he stated.

He also shared historical notes about the building dating back to the 1880s and whom it was named for. “The earliest reference we’ve found was in an 1884 edition of The Covington Times. Aus Prestwood, who walked to Andalusia from Coffee County in 1874 to make a new life for his family, had the building designed in the Regency Revival architectural style after visiting the Owens-Thomas House in Savannah, Ga.,” Johnson said.

The Prestwood Building has long been an important part of downtown Andalusia for at least 137 years and will remain that way for the future. “We know with the partners who are joining us that it will have an impact for many years to come.”

The City of Andalusia will partner first with CDG Engineers and Associates, which has offices in six locations in Alabama and is headquartered here. The top floor will be developed to host CDG’s corporate and local employees. Andalusia native Daniel Wells is the chief operating officer of CDG.

Daniel Wells, center, COO of CDG Engineering, is shown with his wife, Laura Popwell Wells, and mother, Katy Sue Wells, after Tuesday’s announcement. Wells announced that CDG Engineering will renovate the second floor of the Prestwood Building and move its corporate and Andalusia office staff downtown.

“Mayor and City Council, we want to thank you for your leadership and vision as it relates to this project. The decision of the city council and mayor to purchase a number of historical buildings in the area led to the opportunity for local businesses to invest in the revitalization of downtown Andalusia. Today, we are excited to announce CDG will begin construction and occupy the Prestwood Building next June. We will have approximately 50 employees who are excited about the opportunity to work in a downtown environment with high energy. We will have the opportunity to walk to restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and other businesses to help us integrate our work life with our daily life,” Wells said.

CDG is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Wells shared how they are excited about the second floor view they will have in their new building. He said, “We can see some of those footprints we’ve put on the community and are excited about the things to come. Mayor and City Council, again thank you for your time and investment in this community.”

There will also be a restaurant operated by the Big Mike’s restaurant group, which will occupy the south side of the ground floor. Co-founder Mike Cole shared those plans. “We are going to put in a pizza place and call it Luie’s. All of the owners and several employees graduated from Livingston University (LU), which is now The University of West Alabama (UWA). The school mascot is Luie the Tiger and we thought it would be a neat thing to call it that. We will have handmade pizzas, wings, and really good salads. It will be like a laid-back sports bar with televisions and will be very much family friendly. There will be video games for the kids and it will be a neat place to come watch a ballgame and hopefully some good food. This is a beautiful building and we’re excited,” Cole said.

Andalusia native and Town and Country Boutique owner Terri Proctor discussed plans to partner with the city and bring her shop back to its original location on the square. The boutique will move to the north side of the ground floor. “Town and Country has been a part of Andalusia for 70 years, which I think is just awesome. I’m a big history nerd and love history. I’m so thrilled about coming into this building. While I’m going to miss all of my retail neighbors at the trio where we are currently located, I’m proud to be bringing Town and Country back to where it all began. Our square is beautiful and our city has been doing an amazing job to renovate these old buildings and draw locals in and visitors from downtown.”

Terri Jones Proctor, owner of Town and Country Boutique, is shown with her family, Will Proctor, William Jewel, Henry Proctor and Massey Proctor. Mrs. Proctor is moving Town and Country the Prestwood Building.

Town and Country traditionally sells women’s clothing, accessories, shoes, and makeup but has recently added men’s items. “In the last year since I purchased the shop, I have brought in some men’s accessories such as bowties and needle-point belts. We also have a line of clothing for girls and boys that is golf apparel and I have a line of clothing for twin girls exclusive to them. Moving into the Prestwood Building will afford us a lot more space to expand on those departments and bring new product lines into Andalusia. I’m thrilled to be part of this historic renovation and be working with these partners and the city. I think we have a great thing going here,” Proctor said.

Teva Kaplan is one of the City of Andalusia’s partners in the New Orleans firm Concordia, which is the project architect for this endeavor. “We have been working with the City of Andalusia for a couple years now and this building has always been one of my favorites. It’s truly an honor to be trusted with one of the main buildings right on the town square and I look forward to seeing it bring itself back to the community. Through working with the city and CDG, we hope to bring the Prestwood Building back to its former glory,” Kaplan said.

Johnson also acknowledged the importance of historic tax credits, which helped make the restoration of the Prestwood Building possible.  “The State of Alabama’s tax credits were set to expire this year and meant this project could not have happened. We found that out and thank goodness the legislature was still in session. We were able to get Representative Mike Jones and Senator Jimmy Holley busy and within record time, they got the tax credit law reinstated for our state,” he said.

Construction is expected to begin in the fall and continue for approximately eight months. CDG corporate staff is anticipated to move into the new office space by June 2022. The new changes are sure to bring new and exciting times for Andalusia’s future. “I hope you all are as excited about these partnerships as I am and what they will mean to downtown,” Johnson said.