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Our Town Grand Island: Railside

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 11:38 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2021 at 11:44 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - From shopping, to restaurants to unique living spaces, the 42-block area of downtown Grand Island known as “Railside” has it all.

We talked with Sherry Siwinski, who is the executive director of Railside about this exciting part of the city. “This is the heart of Grand Island,” Siwinski said. “This is where it all began, where the original settlers set up shop and started making this city possible.”

The idea to brand this downtown area “Railside” came into being in the mid-2000′s. “We are a Nebraska Main Street community, so we are accredited with them,” Siwinski said. “A part of that is branding what we have to offer here. It’s kind of like the Old Market in Omaha. It’s a way for us to define who we are, and what we have to offer the public.”

The Hedde Building is one of many historic structures in Railside that have been renovated or are being renovated for businesses and living spaces. “It was built by Fred Hedde,” Siwinski said. “He built this in 1887. He actually bought the lot for $2,000. He purchased the Grand Island Independent newspaper in 1884, and after getting this building finished, he moved the paper into this building. This building has housed many businesses over the decades. Currently, it’s home to the Grand Island Tourism office, the Railside office, some boutiques, and apartments. We have three apartments here that are currently finished, with 17 more to come. There are a lot of apartments in these buildings downtown now, and there are some really cool spaces. I get calls frequently from people looking for apartments, and looking for a place to locate their business.”

There are so many highlights in the Railside area, that it’s hard to name them all. Some of the highlights include the Grand Theater, The Tattered Book used bookstore, clothing boutiques, the Daily Dose coffee shop, the Chocolate Bar, and antique stores such as Railroad Towne. “Of course, there’s the dining,” Siwinski said. “We have everything from that fun, rowdy Irish Pub, to breweries, to a classic spot for a Coney dog, to high-end steaks and seafood.”

The next time you are in Grand Island, take some time to stroll the streets of Railside, and take in all that the area has to offer.

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