Ten years ago, Sarah Cromartie and Jean Herman would not have dared come downtown for lunch. However, times have changed.
"You really wouldn't have wanted to be down here at night or even during the day. There was nothing to attract you down here but now it's totally changed," Cromartie says.
At the 400 block of Hay Street, strip clubs, bars and prostitution have been replaced with new buildings, historic-looking streetlights, and welcoming sidewalks. One of the most significant changes is the lack of wires. All the power lines are now underground.
City Manager Roger Stancil says when theAirborne and Special Operations Museumdecided to move in, the city decided to clean up its downtown image.
New trees line the streets. The roads leading into the center city have been improved. It is all part of a streetscape project to turn two blocks of Hay Street into a reflection of city character.
"We're beginning to change that mindset of the people who remember Fayetteville in the 1960s and 1970s as a bad place," Stancil says. "It is now the new place to be."
It is an old town feel for visitors to enjoy and for residents to be proud of.
"We've come downtown because it's attractive," Herman says. "It's a fun place to be, and I'm proud to show it off."
The Hay Street project is expected to be finished by the time the museum opens August 16. The makeover will eventually be expanded to other streets in downtown stretching from Highsmith Rainey Hospital to the courthouse.