Auburn South Side Business Owners Want to Physically Improve Area and Attract Foot-traffic, New Businesses
South Side business owners in Auburn want and are working to revitalize that part of town.
In late March, several business owners gathered at Paint It Priceless to discuss the future of that area and potential improvements they envision for the future.
Auburn resident and business owner Mary Kruger spearheaded the meeting, which drew about 15 people.
Kruger reminded the meeting-goers that the city created an improvement plan for various parts of the city, including the South Side Business District about five years ago.
Kruger said she would like to see the current lighting on the opposite sidewalks of Courthouse Square to be replaced with new antique-style lights, which would blend in with the historic nature of the area and with the new lights on the Square.
She also said she would like the majority of the improvements to be completed within the next 10 years if possible and if money is available. As for paying for the revitalization, Kruger said the city should be able to budget some money for that part of the community.
Business owner Kayla Falk, who is co-owner of the Southside Bar, said she was in support of improving the business district and the city should help pay for the improvements.
“The South Side has been neglected for years. The sidewalks are falling apart, bricks need to be repaired and there is a big hole at the Hahn (property),” Falk said. “I want to start something and get people interested and want to come (to the south side).”
Kruger also said she would like to seek money for the project through the Community Redevelopment Authority and its TIF program.
CRA member Darrell Kruse attended the meeting as a person of interest and also as a representative of CRA. He told the business owners he too would like to see the area improved and he would return to the CRA with information he received during the meeting.
Kruse told the business owners and Kruger that the CRA’s attorney will have to determine if it is legal or not for the CRA to provide TIF money for the project.
Kruger said she would like to see the revitalization project completed in three steps and those steps would be done when money became available.
The first step, Kruger said, should be to replace the lighting and then improve the sidewalks that are in disrepair and then post signage along the highways to promote the business district.
It was also noted during the meeting, that the property owners own the sidewalks in front of their businesses.
According to information Kruger provided to the CRA at a previous meeting, the estimated cost for the total project would be about $197,000.
The business owners attending the meeting at Paint It Priceless were in agreement the area needed to be revitalized.
Auburn resident and current mayoral candidate Scott Kudrna said there is potential of turning the former Hahn building site in to a gathering-type environment, such as a park-type location.
Long-time business owner Sue Charbonnet said the district took a big blow when it lost its restaurant, which was a major attraction to the area.
“A restaurant is a big thing. It brought a lot of people up,” Charbonnet said.
Two new businesses are planned to open in the district. Peru State College professor Ken Anderson and Terri Fulton have both purchased buildings on the west side of the business district. Anderson plans to open an art studio in his building and Fulton is slated to open a headquarters for his TCB Construction company, as well as provide a small show room.
Paint It Priceless owner Kris Gill reminded the business owners that the buildings themselves need to be worked on and that is the most costly part of the revitalization project.
“Redoing a building is the most expensive and they all need to be restored and revitalized,” Gill said.
Tiny Tots Daycare owner Lynsey Ligouri reminded the business owners of Calvert/Sheridan Days she attended as a young child and the excitement and the number of people who were drawn to Courthouse Square.
“I remember being a kid and the Courthouse was packed. It was a great event,” Ligouri said.
Gill said she would like to see the Auburn Farmer’s Market or something similar to be held at the South Side Business District. She said such event would create foot traffic and would make the area a destination point.
The business owners, during the meeting, chose to move forward with the project by establishing a light fixture selection committee, which Gill, Falk and Ligouri chose to be a part of. They will return at a later date with a recommendation.