ASHLAND, Ky. (WOWK) – For about 75-years the GC Murphy Five & Dime building was the heart of downtown Ashland, with people lining the streets looking to get in and shop or even meet with their friends. The other business surrounding the store use to feed off of it.
“Many of Ashlanders have spent many hours here, and have fond memories of the candy counter that was here, the soda fountain, the toy department, and other areas of the store. It was a fun place to be,” said Dr. E.B. Gevedon, owner of GC Murphy Five and Dime building.
About 35-years ago GC Murphy Five & Dime closed its doors to downtown Ashland, and over the years a variety of businesses moved into the building, but Gevedon said none of them fully utilized the building’s space or 100 foot long storefront, the largest in the downtown area.
“It was sad to see that process occur over the last 35 years, but now this is a new beginning,” said Gevedon.
The lifelong Ashland resident is currently restoring the GC Murphy Five & Dime building to is original condition. In the process he hopes to attract a major retailer, micro brewery, or family restaurant to occupy the space. He feels the space is big enough for two large businesses, but whoever moves in he will be requesting that the historical character of the building that has been restored be respected and not changed.
“Yes, I want a business that will foster redevelopment of the downtown and casue foot traffic,” said Gevedon.
He also said downtown Ashalnd needs a major anchor, and the GC Murphy Five & Dime building is the perfect location to do it, because it has the largest storefront.
The City of Ashland is currently undergoing an aggressive downtown revitalization program to increase interest and revenue in the area. The City’s Economic Development Specialist, Katherine Utsinger thinks the restoration of the historic building is exactly what the city needs.
“The downtown is often considered the heart of the city. If the downtown is healthy the community is healthy,” said Utsinger.
She also said the city is looking to get a better food and retail mix into the downtown area, to increase foot traffic and shopping.
Gevedon said he is about finished renovating the building and hopes to lease out the entire building by February. He said many businesses have already called him and shown interest, and he hopes the restoration of the historic building will return the downtown area to the good old days.
“This time at Christmas as recently as 35 years ago, after school or on the weekend, it would be packed(downtown) with people,” said Gevedon.
Utsinger said the city of Ashland is also exploring the idea of switching to angled parking to increase foot traffic in the downtown area.