November 14, 2018
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Walk Along Main Street

A look back at the last five years on Main and thoughts for its future
Prior to the Ford Center being built in 2011 contractors cleared the way for the arena.

When Mayor Lloyd Winnecke addressed Signature School’s 2014 graduating class last May, he told them to take pictures of Evansville’s Main Street.

“When they come back for their five- or 10-year reunions, I don’t think they’ll recognize it,” says Winnecke. In the 10th anniversary issue of Evansville Living, we examined how Main Street had changed in the last decade.

Winnecke attributes the changes in the last five years to the Ford Center “jumpstarting the activity you are seeing.” In November 2011, the 11,000-seat multi-purpose arena situated at the corner of Main Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard opened its doors. Its location across from the Victory Theatre, 600 Main St., and adjacent to the Old National Events Plaza brought a bulk of entertainment options to Main Street. On any given night, a concert, hockey game, or theater performance can be held within a couple blocks of each other.

As the entertainment grew on Main Street, the nightlife did, too. In April 2012, Backstage Bar and Grill celebrated its opening across from the Ford Center. (Read more about the bar in “Night on the Town” on page 166.) Bars have continued to open along Main Street in the last year, such as The Vault 329, which opened in May 2014.

“I’m not sure you would see the restaurants, have the desire for the residential living, and that desire of interest in Downtown without the Ford Center,” says Winnecke, who lives with his wife Carol McClintock in The Meridian Plaza on Main Street.

In the last year, new business has evolved on Main, such as the Main Course Restaurant Challenge, a contest orchestrated by the Downtown Alliance of Southwest Indiana Chamber granting Oscar Velez more than $280,000 in incentives to open a restaurant in the former Roger’s Jewelers building on Main by this September. The Bitterman Mini Shoppes & Farmer’s Market added a new retail aspect when it opened last October in the former Bitterman Brothers Jewelry Store building at 204 Main St.

Winnecke says Main Street will soon experience impacts from just a few blocks away with developments coming to Downtown, such as the Indiana University Medical School and academic health science and research center and the planned Hilton Doubletree hotel.

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