Iriti: More work to do downtown

By LOU WILIN
STAFF WRITER
Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s downtown building investments will have a “tremendous impact,” sparking other projects, an economic development point man said Monday.
But business and government leaders realize Findlay has more work to do on its downtown, said Tony Iriti, Findlay-Hancock County Alliance economic development director. Dialogue and some changes are underway.
“What do we do with the rest of the downtown to fill up these storefronts and do those things that need to be done?” Iriti said. “That’s what we’re working on now, is to have a plan put together that will be able to figure out how we’re going to move that forward.”
It’s critical that Findlay’s downtown changes, he said, because those just out of college have different expectations than their elders.
“Those folks that are coming out of college, they want to live close to where they work,” Iriti said. “They want to be able to walk to restaurants and walk to grocery stores.”
Translation: Downtown Findlay needs to change from a vehicle-friendly area, with more lanes than Interstate 75, to a pedestrian-friendly downtown, he said.
One measure Findlay City Council has been discussing is bumping out the Main Street curb near some intersections to shorten the walk across the street. City officials also are talking to state Transportation Department officials about diverting truck traffic from Main Street to the Martin Luther King bridge.
The state is interested in rerouting Ohio 12 traffic over the bridge instead of traveling on North Main Street to Center Street, Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said.
City administrators have asked council to spend $40,000 for consulting work to help the city apply for a state grant.
“This is a big deal,” Schmelzer said. “There’s a lot of revitalization going on downtown. There will be improvements with the performing arts center. I think it’s incumbent upon the city to take care of (traffic flow).”
A revitalization of downtown has been underway for a few years with the additions of restaurants like Logan’s Irish Pub, Alexandria’s, and a makeover of The Gathering, said Tim Mayle, assistant director of economic development for the Alliance.
“It’s becoming more of a destination,” he said.
But more upscale apartments and townhouses need to be offered downtown, he said. Progress is being made on that front by an investment group called FD Main Street.
Upscale apartments, along with two-story townhouses, are being planned for the second and third floors of buildings south of the Hancock County Courthouse at 320, 322 and 326 S. Main St. The units will feature marble countertops, stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors, like upstairs apartments at the Heck Professional Building, 612 S. Main St.
Reporter Joy Brown contributed to this story.
Wilin: 419-427-8413
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David Peters says:

While I'm all for revitalizing the downtown, what about the mall? It's pathetic. My wife and I get in our car and drive to Toledo or Columbus on a regular basis because the Findlay Village Mall is a joke. It's not a matter of IF this mall is going to close. It's WHEN. Sears did themselves in, but that is a large anchor store that will be gone soon. What does that leave? Elder Beerman and JCP. And we all know that JCP isn't exactly on solid ground themselves. It would be nice if our city leaders put a little more energy into things other than the downtown area. When the mall closes, tax money is going to be redirected to Toledo, Lima and Columbus. Let's focus on trying to get big chains to come to Findlay. Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Macy's, Sam's Club, Target, Home Goods, DSW Shoes, The Appliance Store, The Anderson's, etc.

Gene Foster says:

I think plans for downtown are great but…didn't t we voters turn down the "curb bump-outs" once before? How about timing the walk/don't walk lights better rather than bumping out the curbs?

Keeping trucks off Main Street would be great. So would more parking as well as turn lights at major intersections.