Downtown – the Year in Review
Further to my last post – Christmas/New Year’s is a good time for a gut check – to look back and see what worked and what didn’t, and what needs to change for the new year.
Our recent citizen satisfaction survey noted that Downtown Barrie is one of the top issues facing our city. Looking at our Downtown, 2011 was a very good year. The Mady Theatre opened, and construction began on the first new commercial and residential development in the west end of downtown in more than thirty years – the Nautica development at 15 Maple Street.
But the most positive thing that happened was the number of storefronts that filled in Downtown during 2011. Here’s a list of the new businesses that came to Downtown in 2011 – thanks to Craig Stevens of the Downtown BIA for this list.
Bark & Meows
Deelish Waffles & Desserts
Absolutely Fabulous Fashion Finds
Femme Fatale Spa Lounge
Red Tulip (returned to downtown)
Mitty’s Sports Bar & Grill
The Clarkson Pub
The Edge Gallery
The Brentwood Salon (relocated and expanded)
Simply Tea & Chocolate
The Maple Avenue Towers
Mady Lakeview Sales Office
Mady Centre for the Performing Arts
The West Sales Office
Back To Basics Social Developments – Unity Market; opened on Toronto St.
Gown Gallery – new on 54 Dunlop Street West
In addition, many other businesses expanded or grew in new locations downtown. Looking ahead, while January will no doubt bring some additional vacancies (many companies are on a calender year lease, and if they are planning to close, January is usually the month), the strength of downtown will be in both its commercial and growing residential population. As several developments move forward in 2012, Council will be focussed on ensuring public areas continue to become safer, more attractive places to be. The Downtown BIA has done excellent work in 2011 in implementing the first steps in Roger Brooks’ recommendations for making downtown more of a people place, including temporary patios and new beautification initiatives. The trick will be to keep the momentum going in 2012, despite an uncertain economy. But a stronger Downtown means a stronger community as a whole.