Imagine dining in some of Atlanta’s finest and hard-to-get-into eateries or listening to Jazz while sipping on craft beer in a microbrewery or shopping in a quaint, one-of-a-kind boutique – all without leaving Clayton County.
Jonesboro leaders are in the midst of creating the Broad Street Project, a $7.8 million plan that will transform the county seat into a highly-sought-after art, entertainment, and fine dining gathering spot, similar to those enjoyed by residents in Roswell and Alpharetta. The project broke ground last fall and should be finished by this summer. It will join Jonesboro’s Lee Street Park and amphitheater where concerts and other city events are held.
“The Broad Street Project will provide a central meeting place in our downtown Historic District,” said Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day. “We see it as a catalyst for further economic growth. We anticipate new developments in the city which will add to this effort and are already seeing the interest generated by our effort thus far. With added housing options, we anticipate new residents and businesses as a result of our development efforts.”
Restaurants Debuting in Historic Jonesboro
Among the jewels to look for: The Atlanta Breakfast Club, which was named Best Brunch in Atlanta in 2018, and Slutty Vegan, which has rap icon Snoop Dogg and Hollywood A-Listers queuing up to get a taste of the vegan fare.
Jonesboro’s renewal is part of an ongoing series of projects dating back to 2003. The revitalization plans over time seek to link the city and county, making both more user-friendly with the help of walking trails, updated and efficient transportation, and an economically-vibrant business district, spurred by mixed-use development.
Jonesboro is participating in the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Centers Initiative, a grant program that urges local governments to transform their communities into vibrant, walkable places that offer more mobility options, encourage healthy lifestyles and provide better access to jobs and services.
In addition to restaurants and shops, Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day says 49 homes are slated to be built in Jonesboro off McDonough Street.
“It was a project that was conceived before the last recession,” she said. “It’ll be an in-town development. They will be single-family homes, from the low to mid $200s. It’s going to be a nice little neighborhood.”
Details of Jonesboro’s Broad Street Project
Come Home To Clayton spoke with Day further about her town’s plans to bring long-awaited amenities to the county.
Q. When did Jonesboro officials decide to revitalize downtown?
A. The push actually began well over 10 years ago. Jonesboro, like other cities and counties, was affected by the downturn in the economy in 2008. Prior to that, we had begun Phase I of our downtown Streetscape planned and ready to execute. The Streetscape included a complete refurbishment of our central downtown sidewalks and Main Street, including decorative lamp posts, benches, and other items. Streetscape II followed in 2014, encompassing McDonough Street and the north and south boundaries of Main Street, from North Avenue to South Avenue.
Q. What led to that decision?
A. Our central business district had become stagnant, with little commerce and it consisted of mostly law offices. There was little ambiance to draw people into the downtown area. Citizens voiced interest in more restaurants and gathering places in the city. The city became a member of the Main Street Program, embracing its tenets and expanding our view of what downtown development could really mean to our city. A plan called Blueprint Jonesboro became the catalyst that pushed the process forward quickly.
Q. What are the plans for Jonesboro going forward? How many different projects are involved?
A. The city is working with business owners whose buildings back the Broad Street Project to enhance the exteriors of the structures. Facade grants are available to members of Main Street to assist with this effort. The city has plans following the Jonesboro Broad Street Project to build a new City Center near Lee Street Park, a City Hall and Police Department with a large community room for various functions and events. There is also a Phase II of Broad Street envisioned but not yet put to paper. We have plans to improve the front of our Main Street buildings also with a wider footpath area to provide for sidewalk cafes and meeting places. We aspire to build paths in the city to connect Jonesboro with existing county paths. This would provide a connection with citizens living outside the city, enhancing our golf cart travel. We are presently a golf cart community. All streets are accessible to golf carts, except for Tara Boulevard. We continue to attract new businesses downtown because of the synergy generated by a combination of good development practices, the Livable Centers Initiative, our Rural Zone Status, and the interest and energy of our staff and constituents.
Q. Talk about the Broad Street project. How many businesses will be there? What business is going into the old fire station?
A. The Jonesboro Broad Street Project consists of a comprehensive refurbishing of the area between West Mill and Church Streets in the Historic District. Broad Street connects these two streets near central downtown. The city obtained ownership of the dilapidated buildings behind the old Fire Station and demolished them. The project includes a three-station restaurant in the old fire station as well as a microbrewery. The building is being completely remodeled, including the addition of a large deck in front and an expansive covered porch in the back. Adjacent to the restaurant will be a new building, “The Gathering Place.” The two structures frame our new City Green, a feature to gather citizens and visitors into the Historic District. Also included in the project area underground utilities, pavers, an extensive landscaping plan, and a small pavilion for an additional seating area or small performances.
Q. What companies, restaurants are coming into Jonesboro and where will they be located?
A. There are plans for a three-level Mexican Restaurant in the downtown as well as others in various preliminary processes. The new restaurant in the Broad Street Project will be a comprehensive development, including specialty drinks and a variety of foods, a microbrewery, and a full bar.
Q. It’s been announced that the trendy Slutty Vegan restaurant is coming to Jonesboro. Where will it be?
A. Slutty Vegan will be located on McDonough Street in the Historic District. It is in the planning process. The timeline has not been released.
Q. How long will it take before all of the plans are in place? When will we see concrete evidence of the vision Jonesboro leaders have for the town?
A. The vision is an evolving process. The essence of the vision is contained in Blueprint Jonesboro, which our stakeholders had a strong voice in devising. Public meetings elicited an overwhelming response. Our citizens and business owners were actively involved in the process.
Q. What is the cost of this part of the revitalization and how is it being paid for?
A. The Broad Street Project is a $7.8 million project. Funding sources include Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), private investor funding such as the fire station restaurant, and money from grants.
Q. All told, what will Jonesboro look like? What is the vision? When will all of these plans be in place? What do you hope this will do for the city and ultimately the county?
A. Jonesboro’s vision and commitment are to provide an attractive and inclusive meeting place for citizens and visitors. With our arts and entertainment district developing, we aspire to be a meeting place for daytime and nighttime visitors. Our goal is always to afford and exemplify a city where people can live, play and work, and where visitors want to return.
Q. What will be the biggest change people will see in this portion of the revitalization?
A. Visually, the added beauty and ambiance will be most prominent. Experientially, citizens and visitors will be able to enjoy new restaurants and shops. This work must remain seamless as we continue to plan new streetscapes and other developments in Jonesboro. We will continue our work in the Main Street Program, the Livable Centers Initiative, grant funding, and seek and participate in other opportunities that enhance development in our city. We are committed to “Smart Growth” as we make planned choices to move Jonesboro forward economically.
JONESBORO: AT A GLANCE
Residents: 4,755 live in the city limits.
Clayton residents who have the Jonesboro zip code: More than 50,000.
Its claim to fame: History buffs will know that the Battle of Jonesborough was fought here between August 31–September 1, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War.
Jonesboro, the modern spelling, is also the county seat of Clayton County.