Middlesboro gets ARC funds for downtown site cleanup

Published 5:17 pm Monday, November 14, 2022


Gov. Andy Beshear announced $244,488 in Appalachian Regional Commission funds to Discover Downtown Middlesboro to assist with the deconstruction and site cleanup of a four-story building located on Cumberland Avenue. The building is the site of the former Middlesboro Elks home. Once the building is demolished and site cleanup is completed, the lot will be marketed by Discover Downtown Middlesboro for redevelopment.

“This project is going to help Middlesboro attract new investment and support their efforts to drive economic growth downtown,” Beshear said. “The ARC is a great partner to Kentucky, and this project will build on our record-breaking economic momentum and help drive job creation so our people can build the lives they want and deserve.”

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There is a growing demand for build-ready sites in Middlesboro to attract new investments for commercial, retail, and residential uses. This site will provide approximately a quarter acre of space for a new business to utilize. The former Elks Home is an abandoned property situated between two existing buildings, which complicates the deconstruction process.

“As we attract new investment into downtown, having build-ready lots like this are a huge help,” said Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson. “The old Elks Home has been a blighted property for years, and we’re excited to see the lot be put to good use. This funding will improve our city and set us up for future success.”

There has been some controversy regarding the removal of the building, as the site held sentimental value to several members of the community.

“The building was actually once a hospital,” Nelson said. “Some people did want to see the site be revitalized. But we partnered with Mainstreet to help them get that grant.”

The removal of the structure will provide a build-ready lot that intends to attract new investment to Middlesboro.

“Discover Downtown Middlesboro would like to express our gratitude for the funding made available to create a space for additional growth in our downtown community,” said Larry Grandey, grants coordinator for Discover Downtown Middlesboro. “This has been a five-year process and a joint effort on many fronts to make this a reality. Removing a dangerous building out of our downtown area and allowing for revitalization with new jobs and new opportunities is what Main Street is all about. We are looking forward to working with developers to make this space a centerpiece for our downtown area. This will allow our continued revitalization and encourage new investors into our community.”

The site currently sits next to Ike’s Pizza on Cumberland Avenue, and as of right now there are no current plans for what will occupy the space.

“After the building is torn down, you’ll have an open space,” Nelson said. “Then the sky’s the limit.”

In addition to the $244,488 in ARC funds, other federal sources will provide $124,012, bringing the total project funding to $368,500.