Economic Restructuring Meeting discusses new business plans

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By Erik Sargent

Old Town Lansing Times staff writer

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Downtown Old Town – Photo By Erik Sargent

Old Town – Members of the Old Town Economic Restructuring Committee met Monday to discuss new business plans and action for the Old Town area.

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Members of the Old Town Economic Restructuring Meeting met on Monday, Feb. 10 – Photo by Erik Sargent

The committee, which meets on the second Monday of each month, got together to focus on topics ranging anywhere from building vacancies to recruiting business to the area.

The group also focused on the new market study that was completed for the Old Town area, identifying the most important stats from the study and discussing how to distribute it business owners.

“We had a market study done in 2013,” said Old Town Commercial Association Executive Director Louise Gradwohl. “It was complete with everything from residential to leakage rates to drive times to the behaviors people have, so we’re trying to capitalize off all of this information and numbers.”

The members of the committee also went into long discussions on how to deal with building vacancies and how to recruit business to the Old Town, and Tony Beyers of Vesta Building Industries shared some of his ideas on how to fill the empty buildings.

“One thing we talked about was having open houses for the vacancies,” Beyers said. “I was thinking commercial tours.”

Getting more business was the main theme that was discussed on the day and that is usually the main topic of committee meetings.

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Layout of Old Town’s main business area, which was the focus of the meeting – Photo taken from Google Maps

Since most of Old Town’s business comes from the festivals they have, it was important for the committee to come up with ways to boost local business during these festivals and events.

Ron Preuss, the owner of Preuss Pets, said one of the major problems is people being afraid to get away from the events and go in the stores.

“(People) always have the feeling of not feeling comfortable going downtown,” Preuss said. “By having more events in the downtown area, it gets more and more people against that downtown phobia or the Old Town phobia.”

It is something this committee is working hard at, but with the right planning, people like CBRE Associate Retail Advisor Amy Richter-Perkins thinks they can get people in the doors.

“It’s just one of those things, I was nervous the first time I came here,” Richter-Perkins said. “But when you get down here, it’s just so much fun. There’s so much diversity in the crowds.”

The next Old Town Economic Restructuring Committee will take place on March 10 at noon.

Questions? Contact Erik Sargent at sargen20@msu.edu

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