April 19, 2011

Reviving downtown

Business owners group looks to generate excitement.

Pam Leeman wants downtown business owners to know there’s a lot going on downtown.

At a gathering last week, she pointed out that the city had recently completed the Fourth Street project linking Little Turtle Waterway to the Eel River. She also pointed out the addition of several new businesses, including Jason’s House of Trains, The People’s Winery, Fifth Street Barbecue, Hair to Dye For and Body Works. She also mentioned the new storefront for Amy’s Fashions and new ownership for Amelio’s and Ike’s Sports Bar.

Leeman, who runs the Regions Insurance office on Bankers Row, said she and Mollie Graybeal organized the meeting as a way of keeping downtown business owners informed of developments.

“Primarily, it’s a get together to have some fun and to talk about updates — what we’ve seen and what we’ve been doing,” said Leeman.

Leeman was one of the organizers of last year’s “Dancing With Our Stars” event, which raised money to develop a downtown arts district. She told those gathered for last week’s meeting that signs had already been designed for the arts district.

She said future plans for downtown include “streetscaping” a portion of the 200 block of Market Street. Plans include sidewalks, trees and light poles. Another idea, she said, is to create a “pocket park” next to China Lane. Leeman pointed out the number of parking lots where buildings once stood.

“What we will do is put in landscaping — trees, shrubs, and fencing,” Leeman said. “When you drive by the parking lot, you no longer see the parking lot.”

Also during the gathering, Leeman pointed out a smaller replica statue being constructed with use of money raised during last year’s “Dancing With Our Stars” event.

The sculpture represents two dancers. Local artist Bill Dahman designed the piece, and Jim Galbreath of Galbreath Industrial Service is building it.

It will take two and a half months to complete the sculpture, which will stand 10 feet tall and 90 feet wide.

Leeman thinks it is important to let other downtown business owners know about what is going on in the area.

“I’m hoping they take away the excitement and love they already have for the community, but get re-energized for their community and get to know each other,” said Leeman. “We’ve had a lot of changes.”

She decided to call the social gathering after two businesses displayed interest in coming to downtown Logansport within the last three to six months.

“They asked me, ‘If we relocate or put another location downtown, what kind of downtown business association do you have,’” Leeman said. “They wanted to know how receptive, how active and supportive the downtown businesses are.”

Leeman said it’s important for all downtown businesses owners to know what is going on with one another, too.

“If we have someone else who wants to come into the downtown and checks with a downtown business, if they don’t know what is going on, they won’t be able to share that excitement,” she said.

It’s been quite a few years since a Downtown Business Owners Association has existed. Leeman also informed the group there is an account from the previous organization that still contains nearly $1,900.

“It’s designated for downtown,” she said. “We need to know what you want to do with it.”

Business owners were challenged to look into the future and think about what they would like to see happen.

“It is your downtown,” she said. “Give it some thought. What do you think will look good?”

Leeman also asked the business owners to write a welcome letter about the business and what it offers. The idea is to keep copies to distribute to visitors.

Leeman said she hoped the group would continue meeting, at least on a casual basis or perhaps as a committee through the downtown revitalization group Logan’s Landing.

“We want to do what is best for you,” Leeman said. “Otherwise, we are out there doing what we think is best for you.”

• Denise Massie is a staff writer at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or

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