December 20, 2014

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Business owners assemble group to promote Lorain

 

Gary Davis

Developer Gary Davis met with business owners Tuesday to brainstorm ways to revitalize Lorain’s downtown. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

LORAIN — Proponents of downtown revitalization must have a unified approach to make it happen.

That often-stated concept by proponents in the past is easier said than done, but a newly forming group is taking on the challenge. The group, tentatively named the Lorain Waterfront Business District, is the idea of developer Gary Davis.

Davis, who moved to Lorain from Tacoma, Wash., a few years ago, is the owner of the Gardens of Charleston, a 28-unit upscale apartment building at 610-630 Broadway and the Charleston Coffee House at 630 Broadway. Davis hosted a meeting of about 15 business people Tuesday at the coffee house. He suggested shutting down portions of downtown to vehicular traffic for art festivals or other events once per month to attract people.

“We’ve got to get our image and our pride back,” Davis said. “Make it fun to be down here.”

Meeting participants said past revitalization efforts have failed due to apathy and a fragmented approach.

“If we’re going to be a united front, we need to mean it,” said Angela Greiner, a Key Bank banker.

Leon Mason, Lorain’s deputy safety service director for community programs and affairs, said Lorain may be able to get federal money to help promote downtown if a private group could provide matching funds.

“What the city wants to see is one group working towards the same goal, not 20 groups working different agendas,” Mason said. “We need one entity with everybody being cohesive and working toward the same goals.”

Davis said after the meeting that he was pleased with the response and the group may seek nonprofit status. He said previous groups have had good intentions but have been unable to defeat perceptions that Lorain is crime-ridden and stagnant. Davis said it’s important this group be comprised of business owners.

“The only person who’s going to watch your business the best is somebody that’s got money invested in it,” he said. “We want to get the businesses more involved because this is their livelihood.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

Businesslike Approach

Downtown developer Gary Davis is forming a new business group to help revitalize downtown. The Lorain Waterfront Business District’s goals include:

  • Coordinated efforts to promote downtown and the lakefront, capitalizing on assets such as the Lorain Palace Theater, the Lorain Lighthouse and Lakeview Park.
  • Creating a united voice to advocate for business owners with representatives attending each City Council and Lorain County commissioners meeting and regularly meeting with state representatives.
  • Coordinate with existing entities such as the Lorain International Festival, the Lorain Historical Society and the Lorain Port Authority.
  • Pool resources for advertising to promote downtown as a safe and unique place to visit and shop at and to create a website promoting events, stores and restaurants.

SOURCE: Lorain Waterfront Business District