Making the area a destination — not a downtown but an Uptown trip — offered the opportunity to freshen up the city’s business landscape, according to City Manager Wayne Davis.
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The Uptown plan opens up a strategy to further develop the historic area near the intersection of Ohio 48 and Franklin Street started two years ago.
A 15-member stakeholder committee was assembled with a goal to develop a vision and recommended strategies for the district. The group met four times between March and May then developed a blueprint for the Uptown plan.
The city created a community survey and conducted a brainstorming session with several members of city staff.
“We get a lot of feedback because people love this area,” Davis said, adding that city officials are collaborating with local businesses and residents to get feedback on what they would like to see.
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Uptown needs a strong, supported business community, according to the committee. While Uptown is home to a diverse group of businesses, opportunities remain to welcome new businesses.
“I’m looking to attract the younger generation to come in and enjoy our city,” said Dress For A Day Bridal Boutique owner Martin Huffstutler.
The Uptown plan outlines short- and long-term strategies to bolster quality of life and stimulate economic development.
The top priority, as identified by the stakeholder committee, is to improve walkability and reduce traffic congestion. Creating more parking, greenspace and opportunities for entertainment events also made the list.
A higher-end bar with music, brewpub, art gallery, unique restaurants, and coffee shop are some of the businesses that could revitalize the area and fit in well with the Uptown vision, according to feedback received from surveys.
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What is on the drawing board is something that a neighboring city has implemented. Miamisburg has a retail incentive program and has funded projects such as a $20,000 forgivable loan to Star City Brewing and $7,000 for Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop. A similar program in Centerville could add to the excitement and energy of Uptown, according to part of the strategy being considered for the APD.
Looking to break down barriers that are prohibiting new business growth, the Uptown plan is looking at the availability of liquor permits, which are few.
To eliminate this barrier, the city will investigate if and how Uptown can be designated a community entertainment district to allow for additional liquor permits.
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To improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety in the APD, the city will conduct a feasibility study of connecting dead-end streets to allow for alternative routes to and around Uptown. Additional crosswalks could be added on Franklin and Main streets. A study will also examine a bypass around Main and Franklin, the possible relocation of Ohio 725.
Uptown has 266 public parking spaces in lots that have poor signage, are not connected, and have limited or no walkways to draw visitors from the lots to their destination. The city will undertake strategies designed to enhance these parking lots and their connectivity.
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The development has begun, but the project could take up to five years, according to Mayor Brooks Compton.
“This is the first step,” Compton said.
The Uptown plan will be officially presented to council later this summer for approval.
The Uptown committee
A 15-member stakeholder committee was assembled with a goal to develop a vision and recommended strategies for the city’s Uptown business plan. The committee consisted of the following members:
PatrickBeckel –Business owner (Nationwide Insurance)
Vickie Bondi –Centerville / Washington Twp. Historical Society
Paul Clark –Resident and Chair, Planning Commission
Aiden Corey –Centerville High School student
Angy Gomez –Resident
Sol Gomez –Resident
Kevin Von Handorf–Planning Commission
Tom Ovington –Board of Architectural Review
Chris Papakirk–Property owner
Joanne Rau–Centerville City Council
Raphael Santillan–Restaurant owner (Nelly’s)
Natasha Scherief–Business owner, Zebra Girl Boutique
Lynn Sellers –Washington Twp. (Town Hall Theater)
Mark Engert –Centerville City Council (back up)
Joe Demariano–Board of Architectural Review (back up)