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March 7, 2014

Peacock Alley could reopen as meeting place

Almost three years after fire ripped through it, Peacock Alley is expected to reopen soon as an open-air market and meeting place.

“We are bringing it back to life,” owner John Davis said. “We have painted the front and the back (of the building), and we are putting all the doors back in. We are rebuilding the restrooms.”

The building, which occupies much of the 300 block of Hamilton Street in downtown Dalton, was gutted by fire in October 2011, causing what officials described as well in excess of $1 million in damages. At the time of the fire Peacock Alley housed 10 businesses. Some relocated while others closed.

Investigators determined the fire was not arson but could not pinpoint the exact cause.

“When we are finished, we’ll have about a 12,000-square-foot meeting/market place,” Davis said. “And we’ll have about a 3,400-square-foot multipurpose room, which will be the old tea room.”

The multipurpose room will be the only part of the structure with a roof.

Davis said last year that he and officials from the Downtown Dalton Development Authority and other agencies spent more than a year trying to land an anchor tenant for the building. Davis, who has owned the building since 2007, said rebuilding without an anchor tenant didn’t make financial sense. But he said then and now he thinks having a large meeting place downtown will be popular.

“We are still open to suggestions. But what we are looking at is an open-air market or meeting place,” he said. “You could have a meeting there, and it would be open air. But at the same time you could lock the doors. You’d have security. I hope to have everything done by May 1.”

Dalton City Council member Gary Crews said he is excited to hear that Peacock Alley will be reopening soon.

“I haven’t seen the plans yet,” said Crews, who is the council’s liaison to the Downtown Dalton Development Authority. “But I’ve seen the work they have been doing and it looks really good. I’m anxious to see what it looks like when it is finished, and this is certainly a good time of year to be opening an open-air venue.”

T.J. Kaikobad, owner of the Dalton Depot restaurant, said any time a wedding or other large event takes place downtown it brings shoppers in and makes visitors more aware of what is available in the area.

“This should be highly beneficial to downtown,” Kaikobad said. “As a new venue, people will want to try it out. And being a unique venue will help keep them coming back.”

Peacock Alley, for many years the home of Fraker’s Hardware, is named for a 30-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 41 that includes Dalton and the Ringgold area. The road got its nickname from the days when women would hang tufted bedspreads all along the roadside to sell to passersby. Many bore elaborate, colorful peacock designs.

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