Journal and Courier: January 11, 2007

Downtown businesses rank flowers above marketing

By BOB SCOTT
bscott@journalandcourier.com
If you go
The public is invited to a presentation of the Lafayette Downtown Survey at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Lafayette city hall council chambers.

Downtown business and property owners want improvements, but they don't want new taxes or special assessments to pay for them.

Those and other findings of the Downtown Lafayette Survey were released Wednesday. The survey was prepared by the Statistics in the Community group at the Purdue University Department of Statistics.

Of the 238 businesses and property owners in downtown Lafayette, a total of 84, or 35 percent, responded to the survey taken last year.

About 20 people attended the presentation at the Swezey Commerce Center. Several of the business and property owners said they wanted to take the handout packet home to go over the findings.

"It's a lot to digest," said Jerry Kalal, who plans to open the K. Dees Coffee and Roasting Co. on Upper Main. "It is very comprehensive."

Kalal moved to Lafayette after the surveys were mailed out.

"The push from the numbers is they want to do things around the courthouse. I understand, but there is no place to shop there," he said. "Upper Main Street is being slighted."

Maintenance and landscaping/streetscaping were ranked higher in priority than marketing/image enhancement or safety and development.
Julie Ginn owns four buildings downtown that are a mix of business and residential.

"I was surprised that marketing was a low priority. We have to keep telling people about our downtown," she said.

Dennis Carson, the city's director of redevelopment, said he was surprised that half of the survey respondents were willing to help secure grants and make financial contributions.

"They are putting their money where their mouths are," he said.

Carson said his office will use the survey results to "prioritize projects and funding. The results raise awareness on what people want to see downtown."

Property owner Mark Scharer, who helped develop The Cracker Factory condominiums on North Sixth Street, called the survey a "little boring."
"I'm not sure they hit all the nuggets. It would have been interesting to see more about how businesses are doing economically," he said.

"Are there more opportunities out there? You have to be creative to fund those hidden jewels."


Other highlights of the survey included: