Group working to revitalize downtown Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. – An Indiana community is asking for a second chance after they say they’ve gotten a bad perception of what their town has to offer. Now, local developers are finding ways to shake off their past, to bring more people to town.

Storefront after storefront in downtown Martinsville is starting to look a lot different. That’s because of developers Artesian Group LLC. They have major plans for the area. They just bought 33 properties that they’re going to turn into new restaurants and shops, and they have plans for a lot more.

“We used to close at 6:00, now we’re staying open until 9:00ish,” said John Badger, an employee of Candy Kitchen.

The Candy Kitchen is no stranger to Martinsville visitors. It’s a staple on the square. Despite celebrating 100 years this spring, the store is seeing new faces with a recent boom in business.

“The people have been like, ‘Oh, I’ve never been here, I’ve lived here all of my life!’ You’ve got to be kidding! But it’s wonderful to see all of the people coming in and discovering us,” said owner Pam Badger.

The Candy Kitchen isn’t alone in discovering new ways to bring life back to downtown. Doug Molin, along with his partners, purchased 33 properties. They’re turning rundown buildings, into apartments, a spa, even a civic center for concerts.

“It’s almost like Monopoly for us to create a diversity of business that we bring to the square. We don’t over compete in one area or another,” said Molin.

Just a few stores down from the Candy Kitchen, you’ll find the Fables and Fairytales Bookstore.

Owner Dara Jackson moved there from Nashville, Indiana. Without the recent development, she says her business wouldn’t have had a shot.

It’s essential growth for a community that needs support from not just locals, but visitors.

“We have a lot of people from out of town come here. Then, we try our best to get them to disburse throughout downtown. We know there’s more then what people see when people look up Martinsville,” said John Badger.

They’ll soon find there’s a new look and feel to Morgan County.

“Come give us a second chance. Help us, help us get past that,” Molin said.

The plan is to have these new businesses up and running with the new store fronts in the next few years. The I-69 extension is expected to begin in a few years as well. Businesses are hoping that traffic will also have a positive impact on their stores.