Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

August 4, 2013

Downtown Marion hoping to become cultural center

Vacant buildings, lack of restaurants are a hindrance to progress

(Continued)

Seybold said Grant County provides no financial assistance to aid in downtown development.

Being able to provide a financial incentive to businesses willing to locate in downtown would be beneficial, he said.

A block south of the square is the Centrum Mall, a three-level indoor mall. The lower floor was heavily damaged by a broken water line on Memorial Day and repairs are underway.Most of the mall is empty.Steve Chambers, a 30-year resident of the city, was waiting for a barber shop in the mall to open on a recent weekday.“There were a lot of retail businesses in the downtown when I first moved to Marion,” he said. “There were a lot of different things; they’ve all dissipated.”Chambers said for downtown to rebound, businesses are needed to attract people and increase foot traffic.“Where do people flow to? Right now it’s the bypass,” he said. “The businesses are there and accessible. What are you offering to meet the needs of people? Most are located on the bypass.”Chambers advocated for increased landscaping around the courthouse to provide something attractive to the eye.Carmen Sinclair and Jenifer Meyer recently opened The Grand Cupcakery on the lower level of the Centrum Mall. The business was incorporated in 2012, and began by selling baked goods at the local farmer’s market.

“We’re getting what we hoped for,” Meyer said in terms of business. “The mall was affordable and ready to use.”She said once the water damage is repaired, most of the lower level will be occupied.“There is no financial support from the city,” Meyer said. “They express support for our business and are our customers. Assistance would be helpful.”Meyer said they considered other locations but liked the idea of locating downtown. She said the other locations, along the bypass, were more expensive.“Right now not a lot of people come downtown to shop,” she said, adding, “Main Street Marion does a good job of bringing people downtown.”Kim Mitchell recently opened Two Sisters Fitness in the mall. She said the lower rent was a factor.

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