CALERA, Ala. (WIAT) — Calera is one of the many cities inside Alabama’s fastest growing county, but with a small town feel and current efforts to create a historic entertainment district, it is a city set apart from others.
Calera is also one of the oldest cities in Shelby County.
A book on its early history dates the first postmasters being named in 1869.
Within the city limits, there are two wineries, the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum, standing Civil War landmarks and the Shelby County airport.
The wineries and the railroad museum bring out tourists from across the country.
Though historical, Calera continues to grow with the rest of the county.
School enrollment numbers show increases from 2017 to 2019. Just in the high school alone, 762 students were recorded in 2017. 870 students were recorded by 2019.
The city is also on track to double last year’s new home permits and commercial development permits.
Between January to first of June, 113 new home permits and 14 commercial development permits have been sought out.
However, most of that growth is on the city’s northside.
Over the years, Calera’s historic main streets are falling behind.
Longtime shop owners left the area. Several storefronts are sitting vacant. The once lively area is at risk of becoming a ghost town.
But Calera Mayor Jon Graham says he isn’t letting that happen. The city has teamed up with Main Street Alabama to revitalize the area.
Mayor Graham says he hopes to eventually connect a revamped Main Street to the railroad museum and Ozan Winery to create an entertainment district.
However, he says he wants to see the growth happen responsibility and in proper timing, so Calera can handle the growth.
One infrastructure project is underway. The I-65 is under construction to become seven lanes and accommodate more traffic.
But Mayor Graham says the big draw to Calera is the small town feel and community.