Changes abound throughout Jefferson City's downtown


A man rides his bicycle down Jefferson City's High Street as others enjoy sitting at the outdoor tables and shopping. Many changes are happening in the downtown area.

A man rides his bicycle down Jefferson City's High Street as others enjoy sitting at the outdoor tables and shopping. Many changes are happening in the downtown area. Photo by Shaun Zimmerman.

Big things are happening in downtown Jefferson City. Two High Street buildings were recently sold, a new restaurant is set to open on Madison Street, and existing businesses are making improvements.

“We are really excited people are wanting to locate in downtown,” Stephanie Bell, with the Downtown Association, said Friday.

After much effort by the association, as well as by the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce, High Street is virtually full of tenants. Bell said the only vacant storefront the association knows of at this time is 118 E. High St., owned by Central Bank. An increase in community events and attendance, as well as the neighborly business owners located downtown, have all been factors in helping fill the vacant spaces, Bell said.

In the midst of downtown growth, the Art Bazaar is currently looking for a new home as its 112 E. High St. location has been sold.

“We’ve been downtown for five years,” Mary Ann Hall said of the Art Bazaar. “We would certainly like to stay downtown.”

The local retail store and art community hopes to find another location on High Street that provides the foot traffic and sense of community its current building provides. The Art Bazaar is in a lease through the end of December, but would like to move sooner so both it and the new owners can benefit from the holiday shopping season.

“We have invested in downtown and know that’s where we want to stay,” Hall explained.

Bell said having all the buildings occupied is a good problem to have.

“It may be time to start exploring some of these side streets,” she said. “They are all walk-able.”

Bell noted that businesses as far as Ash Street are considered a part of downtown.

The new owners of the Art Bazaar space, Greg and Geri Bemboom, will close on the sale Sept. 15. The Bembooms own The Copper Tree Exchange located off Dix Road. They anticipate moving their consignment shop to the downtown location once The Art Bazaar’s lease has ended.

“We need more space and want to be downtown for the traffic,” Greg said.

The store will celebrate one year in business in October. Once it moves into the High Street location, Greg said the store will focus on selling home decor, furniture items, books and other household items.

Another High Street building purchase is also set to close in September. Realtor Cynthia Blosser said the 204 E. High St. building is getting a new owner Sept. 10. The new owner could not be reached for confirmation on the pending purchase.

After nearly one month in his new role as owner and pharmacist at Tolson’s Drug Store, Cameron Schulte is getting settled in. The young Jefferson City native assumed his new role in the long-standing business after passing his boards earlier this summer.

With a change in ownership comes a fresh look. Schulte said the lighting is being replaced, counters are being moved and a new popcorn machine is in use. Apartment renovations on the upper level were to start this week as well.

Schulte said there is still talk of putting in a downtown market, but the master plan is yet to be determined. Patrons will have to stay tuned to see what this young entrepreneur has up his sleeve for the future.

Local restaurant owner Jami Wade is knee-deep in renovations, turning the former Chez Monet into Jefferson City’s first independent movie theater. Wade said the brick has been exposed and sealed, the floors are almost finished and there is painting to be done. The tin ceiling will be kept to match the one next door at Capital City CORK and Provisions.

Wade said she would love to be open in November, and that is her goal. However, the opening really depends on funding. The cinema owner said the capital campaign for the new not-for-profit theater will begin mid-September.

Once enough funding is in place, all of the equipment will be the main priority prior to opening.

“The fate is really going to depend on Jefferson City,” Wade said. The cinema will be completely funded by donors, with the community encouraged to get involved in the process.

Wilson’s Downtown Fitness will host a goodbye party this Friday, Aug. 30, in anticipation of a new future at 128 E. Dunklin St. The event begins at 6 p.m. and will act as a farewell to what was. Central Bank will begin renovations to the studio’s current location, 101A W. High St. Wison’s Yoga Studio hopes to be open in its new location later this fall. Until then, the studio will hold pop-up Yoga classes. Mondays and Saturdays throughout September the classes will be held in the soon-to-be cinema next door to CORK. Wade is keeping the space open for the classes while she works on the capital campaign to finish the theater.

A new restaurant is rumored to open soon at 219 Madison Street. A fresh coat of paint on the exterior declares the new business’s name, SzeChuan Restaurant. The owners couldn’t be reached for comment, but keep an eye out to see when the new cuisine will be available. With tables set up and a Coca-Cola machine in place, it shouldn’t be long.

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