XENIA — Despite the loss of some businesses in and in near downtown Xenia during the first quarter of 2017, the revitalization is clearly underway.
Several new businesses have opened their doors and other local businesses owners are banning together to try and keep that trend going.
They, along with city officials, had a meeting at the home of Xenia native David Loveless in February to discuss how they can get more visibility.
“Bring people back downtown,” said Anew Exchange owner Dwaine Evans. “We need to do that in a variety of ways.”
One suggestion is a weekly farmer’s market similar to what’s being done in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. Evans, who opened his store in November, also suggested more family activities in addition to First Fridays.
“Troy has done a good job, Springfield has done some things,” he said. “We just have to bring people back into Xenia.”
A key, Evans said, would be to appeal even more to those who utilize the bike path.
Tim Sontag, who has owned Xenia Shoe and Leather in the Litt Brothers Building since the early 1980s, said the building owners need to continue to market their vacancies.
“It think it just takes steady plugging away by the current building owners,” he said. Sontag bought his building in 2007 after renting for decades. He said new owners can bring a new energy.
“A little turnover in that area can be a good thing,” he said.
The city is working hard to help the local businesses, Sontag said. It helped facilitate Sontag receiving Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits in December, which will allow him to convert the upper floors into five low-income apartments.
The project is estimated to cost $828,942 and when completed, Sontag will be able to use $183,714 in special tax write-offs for eligible expenses. Because the building is part of the Xenia Historic District and is listed on the national registry, it is eligible for the tax credits, which are making the project feasible.
“It’s really amazing,” Sontag said at the time. “I feel very, very fortunate. Very appreciative of the City of Xenia. They’ve been so supportive. This process, we couldn’t have done without them.”
He also received a city grant in 2006 to work on the facade.
“I really think the city is on our side,” he said. “They value downtown. They have our interests at heart.”
Along with Evans’ business, Sip & Dipity Paint Bar has been doing well on South Detroit Street, Brodsky said. Victor’s Taco Shop is open on Main Street near downtown and based on an ad hoc survey by the Gazette, there is rarely no line.
“Business owners are seeing that that is opportunity in downtown Xenia,” Development Director Steve Brodsky said. “We’re kind of building that excitement.”
The re-development of Towne Square is underway as well. Brandicorp is hoping to break ground on the first of several new retail offerings in the spring. Included that will be at least one casual, sit-down restaurant and some specialty retail stores, Brodsky said.
Under new ownership, the Eavey Building could also be a high profile place for new businesses.
“They have been doing a lot of work,” Brodsky said. “I can’t say that anything is imminent. (But) it has attracted a lot of interest.”
It’s not yet Eutopia. Ha Ha Pizza, based in Yellow Springs, closed its East Main Street location in January, less than two years after opening. Stan the Donut Man on North Detroit Street closed its doors for good after more than 30 years and Not Too Shabby moved to The Mall at Fairfield Commons.
Despite that, Brodsky isn’t worried.
“There’s a lot of reasons why businesses come and go,” he said. “It’s probably not because they were making too much money. Sometimes it’s personal reasons.”
In the case of the Donut Man, it wasn’t because of business according to a sign on the door.
Not Too Shabby had an opportunity to move that was, uh, not too shabby.
“They had a tremendous offer to relocate to a mall,” Brodsky said. “If they have a chance to grow and move their business, certainly we’re happy for them.”
Rumors around town indicate a brew pub could be coming downtown and a new splash pad, located near Xenia Station, should be open this year bringing more people near downtown.
Residential opportunities are also coming. Sontag is receiving a tax break to help turn the upper floors in his building into apartments.
“We’re hoping that this will be the start of additional housing downtown,” Brodsky said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.