The demolition of the Roadside Inn recently completed on East Dixie Avenue moves Elizabethtown a step forward to an improved development potential on the city’s south side.

The hotel, long ago a Ramada franchise, closed earlier this year after being cited for a long list of health and safety violations. Those infractions were discovered through inspections by the Elizabethtown Fire Department and planning and zoning after receiving complaints from tenants.

Remains of the neighboring Kentucky Cardinal Inn, destroyed by a late March fire, sits surrounded by a security gate. Following a condemnation order issued from the city, its demolition has been halted by an injunction as litigation and investigation of the fire continues. Eventually this property, too, will be cleared to make way for new opportunities and possibilities.

These two hotels once were among a number of prospering hotels and restaurants serving locals, visitors and travelers passing through Eliza­bethtown. The passage of time and changes related to the interstate exit brought commercial development to the northern I-65 exit, changing traffic patterns on The Dixie.

For businesses on the south end of town, these changes dealt a difficult hand of cards with which to play. Restaurants lost their traveling and regular customers. The hotels slowly declined. Those that remain in operation on the south end today primarily serve as residency hotels filling a need for individuals and families who otherwise might find themselves without shelter.

Clearing away vacant, condemned or destroyed buildings like these isn’t easy or cheap. But these dollars should prove to be a sound investment down the road as the full commercial potential of E’town’s south side is realized.

Important activity is in the works. Making more vacant property or cleared land ready for development is a critical step. Viable neighboring businesses like those already operating nearby are important to bring traffic into the area. The review of the city’s comprehensive plan currently underway must include updated focus on the south end.

Mayor Jeff Gregory’s plan to stand up a formal development task force will add momentum to attract business and investment interest in the area.

As these accomplishments and efforts combine, Elizabethtown’s south end again can become a more attractive and financially viable location for new and expanding commercial investment.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

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