The buzz downtown
Momentum continues to grow as new businesses move into downtown Westfield
206 W. Main Street may look small from Ind. 32, but the former residence is now home to three businesses in downtown Westfield – The Blank Space, a nonprofit art studio for high school students; Such Great Heights, photography studio; and administration offices for Imagine Church.
“It’s very deceiving from the street,” said Patrick Laurent, owner of The Blank Space. “It looks a lot smaller than it is.”
Laurent and his wife, Maya, are currently renovating the space for their artistic businesses. For the past two months, instead of being small-business owners the couple has been acting like general contractors – painting, laying hardwood floors, retiling the bathroom and other cleaning efforts – as they prepare for the store’s opening.
“It’s a place high school students can come in and hang out after school,” said Laurent, adding that local professional artists will provide mentorship.
The Laurents have been Westfield residents for nine years.
“We want to continue to be a part of this community,” he added. “We’re excited about what’s going on in Westfield and wanted to be a part of that.”
What’s going on in Westfield is the buzz being generated about the downtown area. City officials, in conjunction with the Downtown Westfield Association, have been hitting the local speaking circuit announcing the relocation and recruitment of several new businesses to downtown Westfield and that the momentum downtown is soaring tremendously.
Businesses that have recently opened downtown include Cinderella’s Closet, Skin Fix Spa, Erika’s Place, Carpet Express Flooring of Westfield, Such Great Heights, Dotted Lime, Everyday Artisan and Imagine Church’s office. DWA Director Anne Poynter said other businesses preparing to open or locating downtown include Craze Boutique, Wandering Peacock Art Gallery, Adagio Dance Studio and The Blank Space. Poynter added that three tenants have verbal agreements to move downtown as well.
“I believe that the renovations that the city has completed, combined with the Grand Junction plans, have really piqued the interest for businesses. This is the beginning of something big for the community of Westfield,” she said. “There’s a lot of growth because space available is pretty affordable . . . We’ve still got some spaces on the radar to get filled.”
Poynter, partnering with Curt Whitesell of WKRP Indy, created a new Web site for business owners looking for space downtown. Grand Junction Properties’ goal is to inventory downtown space and provide a “one stop shop website for those looking to lease/buy space.” The site, www.grandjunctionwestfield.com, allows the greater community to see what is currently available as well as the city’s plans for redevelopment.
“There’s huge potential in this downtown,” said Whitesell. “The location of our downtown on Ind. 32 and in close proximity to U.S. 31 provides enormous marketing potential for any business. This visibility partnered with great new access trails and our low rent/sale prices is the reason we’re getting bombarded with inquiries.”
“This Web site and signage for availability in the downtown has created a buzz,” added Poynter. “It’s the first time anyone has tried to collectively market downtown Westfield as a great place to bring business. This is prime real estate on the verge of explosive growth for very reasonable rates.”
Renovations to Westfield’s downtown included the reconstruction of Old Friends Cemetery Park, the construction of the Midland Trail and trailhead, the construction of the Grand Junction trail, the extension of the Natalie Wheeler Trail and the streetscaping of South Union Street. Currently, the city is in the process of acquiring land to eventually construct the Grand Junction plaza.
The goal for Poynter is to add more restaurants and retail stores downtown.
“Restaurants are what get people there. Retail gives them something to do after eating,” she said. “We want people looking to make a long-term investment. We want to attract businesses willing to step up and help us grow.”
Poynter believes Union Street is DWA’s strongest amenity because it’s wide and has good parking on the street. However, INDOT estimates that 20,000 cars travel on Ind. 32 each day, providing plenty of exposure for businesses along Main Street.
“That doesn’t happen on Main Street in Carmel, but it happens in downtown Westfield,” Poynter said.