Main Street Mt. Pleasant is starting off on the right foot in 2017
BY BRYCE KELLY
Mt. Pleasant News
If Lisa Oetken, director of Main Street Mt. Pleasant, is hoping for one thing in 2017, it’s that the trends formed in 2016 continue into this year.
“In 2015, we saw 13 new businesses, and in 2016, we saw nine new businesses,” said Oetken, adding that the vacancy rate for downtown businesses is sitting roughly at one percent. “Already, we know of two new businesses opening this spring downtown, which I am very pleased about. We are starting the year off right.”
According to Oetken, the current vacancy rate is as low as it has ever been in her memory, saying coming into 2015, the downtown district had roughly 12 to 15 vacancies to fill – one of the highest vacancy rates the downtown has had in quite some time.
Main Street Mt. Pleasant might have been fighting to bring more businesses to the downtown district between 2014-2016, but they were also setting some renovation and remodeling goals within that time, too. Among some of the major renovation projects was the completion of the Brazelton renovation in 2016. At the end of 2016, Main Street also received a challenge grant to put towards upper story apartment renovations in the Hoaglin Building, which Oetken says are already underway.
“The downtown as a whole looks really good, I think,” said Oetken. “In addition, the various events we put on were overall successes. Pints in the Park and the Chili Challenge was our best event. It was a lot of fun combining those two things and putting a new twist on an established event.”
Looking further into 2017, Oetken says that while Main Street Mt. Pleasant has a lot to be thankful for, there are still some new challenges coming their way, including prepping businesses for major city construction in 2018, continuing to address the need for quality housing, and furthering the overall appeal of downtown Mt. Pleasant.
“We know that eventually the city will be finishing the downtown streetscape and is planning on starting that in likely the next year or two,” she said. “So, making sure our downtown shops are ready for when the city begins to do sidewalk renovations to make them ADA-compliant and all those things is something we are already looking at…we just want to make sure our businesses are ready.”
As far as what types of shops are being sought out for the downtown district beyond what already exists, Oetken says no one type of shop is being looked for over others. However, Oetken says a recent market analysis of the city did show what much of the local community would like to see come to the downtown area.
“The analysis showed that a brew pub/upscale restaurant was by far the most desired amenity,” Oetken says. “People in Mt. Pleasant want somewhere to go with a cool, unique atmosphere that is more formal. And we are working on getting something like that.”
Oetken says Main Street’s goal is to have such a venue opened and running by the end of this year if the right owners and space can be found and renovated within that timeframe.
“Right now, I think Mt. Pleasant is a destination. People can come here and get specialty coffees, shop for antiques, art, and home décor at a variety of places; they can shop at clothing boutiques and eat some unique foods,” she said. “And they can even see a movie before turning in for the day. That’s what we want. We want this area to be a place that anyone can come and find something that attracts them, and keeps them coming back.”