February is an awakening time in Moab. Town is coming out of a short hibernation. Up and down Main Street and along side roads there are hammers pounding, paint brushes flying, and shovels digging in the dirt. Every year I take note of the facelifts that are happening on a corner here or on an old building there. Every year, in my view, our city gets a little better looking.
I know there are many folks who don’t share my outlook, who wish that the tourists would just stay home. There are some who abhor the idea of new hotels going up and new proposals before the planning commission. But I like the investment of new energy and enthusiasm for the Moab economy.
Starting on the far north end of town we are boasting a new transit hub that throughout the year will get even better looking and useful as the finishing touches are applied. We’ve been pretty patient during the dust and delays near Lions Park, and now the heavy work is done. Continuing into town, a tall new hotel is filling the space of what for decades has been a dirt lot with a few dead mulberry trees on it. Across the street, in what was a convenience store more than 30 years ago, the little strip mall is being stripped of its aging facade as it takes on a new look and new purpose.
Upturned dirt at the Best Western on Main and Center is a sign of improvements there, while the Best Western one block down the street boasts architectural design changes that have given the corner of 100 South some new style. On the south end of Main Street the Moab Valley Inn is sporting new siding and colors. It looks nice.
Old brick apartment buildings tucked into residential areas of downtown are getting new paint, new doors and in some cases new insides that may not have had much of an overhaul since they were built during the Uranium Boom of the ‘50s. The golden lines of new two-by-fours are being hammered together on a number of the city’s residential lots as they form the skeletons of new homes on Moab’s old streets.
Last fall we said goodbye to some downtown businesses that had been part of our retail family, but new business endeavors are taking their places, bringing new confidence in the Moab marketplace. I’m anxious to see what new wares will be pedaled to the public as our visitors come back.
On south Highway 191 there is nothing left of the old Sportsman’s Lounge building that had sat for years without getting a sideways glance from investors. That vacant eyesore is now gone, save for its unsightly trusses that appear to have been salvaged and placed along the highway nearby. The blank slate where the truck stop had been may now have a better chance to host commercial activities. That is, unless the mess nearby is a deterrent to potential investors. Hopefully, those remains will soon be repurposed and not be an unsightly annoyance for years to come.
But for the most part each spring, Moab is like a princess dressing up for a ball, primping and planning for the gala season to come. I’m ready for the dancing to start.