Residents Support Recent Changes in North Side Downtown Businesses

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By Frank Sorise
Grand Ledge Gazette

Downtown Grand Ledge is a unique area that includes the center of the city’s government, a movie theater, library, opera house, restaurants, craft stores and antique shops among other businesses. Joe Gentilozzi, the founder of Joe Gentilozzi Commercial and owner of several business buildings in downtown Grand Ledge, calls the area “the nucleus of the city.”

Within the past year and a half Grand Ledge has revamped the north side baseball park, improved infrastructure and plans to make more economic advancements. “The city government has been very active over the last decade in attempting to improve the downtown,” said Grand Ledge Mayor Kalmin Smith“The Downtown Development Authority has focused on improving existing parking lots and building new ones in downtown, most recently completing a two million parking lot on the north side.”

The north side of downtown Grand Ledge is primarily populated by small businesses.  “The small businesses are very important to Grand Ledge,” said Kathleen Albert, 2011 Grand Ledge Independent  People’s Choice Award-winning hair stylist at BridgeWater Salon and Spa.

“All the businesses here like to support each other,” said April Gonzales, employee at Sports Stop. “Supporting Grand Ledge businesses help the city’s residents which ultimately help the city’s schools.”

Mayor Smith said he supports small business, but did not discourage allowing bigger businesses to enter the north side of the city. “We would certainly welcome big business downtown but space and parking limitations would be a consideration.”

While happy with the current state of the downtown area, Mayor Smith believes further growth is possible. “We need more retail opportunities in the downtown.  What I believe will work best in the long run in the downtown is more restaurants, boutiques and unique upscale destination retail outlets.”

Grand Ledge residents have remained loyal to their locally owned businesses such as Preston’s Bar and Fortino’s Confectioneries which have been in business in the city for more than 90 years. Grand Ledge residents and business owners urge others to come to north side downtown more often because the area, as described by Kathleen Albert, “is a lot of fun.”

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