The north 800 block of Third Street between Miami Avenue and Ottawa Street had been totally abandoned as of spring of 2017. For two decades before that, half of the block stood empty.
It’s revitalization began earlier this year as Paul Gothra bought the two empty buildings and revitalized them, starting with a Marathon gas station and Gothra’s Kitchen convenience store opening in March where Hook’s Drug Store once operated.
During the last week of August, he also opened up Gothra’s Neighborhood Market in the building that was formerly a Marsh grocery store until the chain went bankrupt in 2017.
West side residents anticipated the new store so much that, during the renovations, people dropped in asking about it — and about jobs.
Residents weren’t the only ones wanting to see something there.
When Gothra indicated his intent to buy and renovate the lots, Logansport stepped up to help. It put $131,000 of Tax Increment Financing money toward improvements for the block in an effort to raise property values and taxes. Any increase in property taxes would go to pay for the improvements the city made.
“It’s two-fold. You want to bring commerce to the block, and you want it to look good — and I think both things were accomplished,” said Bill Cuppy, Executive Director of the Cass-Logansport Economic Development Organization.
The money went toward LED lighting, paving, parking lot striping, sidewalks and curbs.
“It needed it," Cuppy said. "It was two empty buildings. It would become dangerous after a time. And the sidewalks and streetlights and parking lot were just a mess.”
There was another incentive for the inside of the store.
Gothra was reimbursed $100,000 during the second week of September for improvements including new freezers, a 50-camera surveillance system, new registers and just about everything new a store needs.
That grant comes from County Economic Development Income Tax money.
Opening the store again was a projected to cost $1 million, Cuppy said.
The northwest area of town was also somewhat of a food desert. Now, the two businesses are proving popular with both residents and with people from outside Logansport.
Peggy Hartman said she takes the city bus from the McKinley School Apartments to the new market. Although she still goes to the east end to shop sometimes, she doesn’t always have to.
“It’s convenient, close by and they have about everything you need,” she said. “It’s clean, and everything seems to be in order.”
Brittney Colford says having both the store and the gas station has improved the neighborhood and her life.
“They’re just so nice. They’re friendly. You can tell that they’re trying to improve the neighborhood,” she said.
She feels it’s improved the area.
“It makes it look less abandoned,” she said. “It makes the neighborhood look nice and all. The stuff they did to it, it looks fabulous.”
There’s also more traffic in the area as people drive to the northwest side of town to see it.
Colford stops at the gas station in the mornings before work because it’s convenient. She also likes the chicken it sells and the fact that they have cold two-liter soft drinks.
“They’ve always got business. They’ve always got what you need,” Colford said.
She likes having the store close by because of vehicle issues.
“We don’t have to drive clear across town. When we want to go for a walk, we can go to the grocery store,” Colford said. “We travel three minutes down the road, quickly grab it and go home,” she said.
Tony Allen, who grew up in the neighborhood, used to walk to Marsh and Hooks as a kid and likes to see his kids be able to walk there now to buy candy.
“It’s kind of nice to be able to walk to the gas station and grocery store again,” he said. “The years we didn’t have a gas station or grocery store, it was horrible.”
Michelle Boruff also thinks it improved their neighborhood, both for convenience and the ability to walk there.
“Both of them are very nice and very clean. It makes people want to go there,” she said.
Victoria Smith and Emily Grace, 9, had walked to the Marathon station for soda pop.
“We don’t have to walk far to get something,” Grace said.
Smith said that after her seeing the empty Hook’s for the 15 years she’s lived there, “it’s pretty nice that they put something here where this empty building was.”
A 24-hour gas station means people don’t need to go across town for gas, she added.
Pam Milburn is one out-of-towner who decided to try it out on Sept. 13.
She hopes the store does well because it’s on the west side of town, making it easy for people from the country to access.
Glen Shaw from Royal Center said having the store about 20 minutes from him saves him from having to drive another 35 to 40 minutes through Logansport to shop, which makes him more likely to shop in Kokomo on the way home from work.
“I missed this place,” he said, referring to the former Marsh. “It’s got to be a good thing. This is an area that’s been suffering a lot lately. I’ve never understood with all the development, you have to go through town,” he added.