Business, building owners downtown hopeful

Published 5:25 pm Friday, June 18, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The announcement of Niles being named a Michigan Main Street Community is another sign of progress for the city and has many downtown business owners excited about the future.
One downtown business owner is so pleased with the progress being made here that he cited it as a determining factor in his recent decision to purchase his own building in downtown Niles.
Kevin Lewis, who owns IHS Technologies and IHS Heating and Cooling, 111 E. Main St., recently purchased The Gallery building, located at 127 E. Main St.
His plans for The Gallery Building, which he purchased last month, are to bring in a moderately upscale restaurant and retail businesses.
There is some cosmetic work that needs to be done to his recent acquisition, but he hopes to have something in place by this fall.
Bernice Strotter, owner of Sentiments, 307 E. Main St., was present at Thursday's announcement and thinks just having the title of Main Street Community will help Niles.
She is hopeful that the business recruitment assistance provided by the state will translate into more business diversity downtown.
Steve Smith, owner of three downtown buildings, 101 E. Main St., 111 E. Main St. and 214 N. Second St., was not exactly clear on what the Main Street designation meant, but thinks it can only help the city.
One of the other big steps currently making news to downtown business owners is the streetscape construction that got under way this week.
While business owners are not looking forward to the inconveniences created by construction, they are looking forward to the results it will create. "It is going to hurt our walk-in retail traffic, but you have to look beyond that and know that the end product is going to be tremendous for the city," Lewis said.
Strotter said if everything goes as planned, the streetscape should turn out to be beautiful.
Smith is not worried about the construction because he knows it will pay off in the end.