The future of downtown Hannibal

Tom and Huck statue, downtown Hannibal. Photo by: Chad Douglas/KHQA

Over the winter months, there are at least four renovations happening in the Hannibal Historic District.

And by this time next year, construction should be underway on a huge development.

KHQA continues our special look at Tri-State Downtowns by taking you to America's Hometown.

Paul Lewellen grew up in Hannibal, and he believes in Hannibal.

"Every morning you see us out sweeping sidewalks and rearranging furniture and everything else," said Paul Lewellen.

Lewellen is the owner of The Wine Stoppe, and co-owner of the Hannibal Trolley Company. He's also the President of the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council. That council is made up of 55 members, mostly of downtown businesses, but not all. They plan for and market events for the downtown area.

"We see what we could do differently, and anything like that because we don't want it to get hum-drum. We have a lot of repeat customers, and we want something different for them each time.

Lewellen says a downtown revitalization got kicked started more than a decade ago. New owners invested in store fronts because they feel protected by the flood wall. About five years ago the city redid the streets and sidewalks, and that served as a springboard to more success. Add new lighting, benches, and some sort of festival just about every month, and Lewellen says the success is now contagious, and he loves watching it spread.

"I'm very proud of downtown Hannibal. I wouldn't leave for anything. This is just what I like," said Lewellen.

Lewellen says it takes a lot of cooperation from the marketeting council, the city, the street department, tourism department, and Parks and Recreation. If you can't tell that all of those entities play nice, you'll soon be able to see it. The city and the Parks Department are currently in the permit phase for a fast riverfront improvement plan. Construction could get underway by summer.

"A new river wall, a new walking area, all the way down to the new marina," said Andy Dorian, with Hannibal Parks and Recreation.

When the 5 year plan is all done, there will be far more ADA compliant green space, and room for two riverboats to dock at once.

"We have people from all over the world come down just to look at the river. We also have people who have grown up here who come down every weekend to use their boats on the river," said Dorian.

Keeping locals interested in the Historic District is a big key to this success. That's why there are more festivals that happen before and after summer, when tourism is a big draw for America's Hometown.

Victorian Christmas kicks off on the 25th.

There are special things every Saturday, now through Christmas Eve.

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