Eldridge Looking for Ways to Revitalize Downtown - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Eldridge Looking for Ways to Revitalize Downtown

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City leaders in Eldridge are looking at ways to spruce up the downtown. Eldridge has grown 35 percent since the last census, going from 3,000 to more than 5,000 residents. City leaders say while population growth has been good,the downtown area is lagging behind. They want to work on several vacant buildings to make the area more attractive for dining and shopping. They're using information they got last week from a "Main Street Iowa" meeting. The "Main Street" program helps them improve the look of their downtown.

"It's definitely kind of a live work idea for us. We would live to see 100 percent occupancy, new businesses, niche businesses. We are a small main street compared to others. We definitely want to focus on giving it its own character, restore buildings back to original faces, original looks and just kind of bring them all together," said James Martin, Eldridge Assistant City Administrator.

Business owners in the area say they think the move is a good idea. They say with more and more people moving to town, there's no reason the downtown shouldn't be an attractive and flourishing part of the city.

"We just absolutely believe that our downtown can be a beautiful place to shop visit and eat and we don't want it to stay the way it is--we really want it to just bloom," said Peggy Bowers, Co-owner of 2 Sisters Resale and Gifts.

Bowers' business is in the heart of the downtown. She opened the store about six months ago, and while her store is doing great so far, she says she would like to see others move into the vacant buildings in the area and do the same.

"We would like to be able to say there is a bakery a half block away or there is a craft store here. We would like to be able to say that and right now we can't and so that makes it sad."

Bloomers Flower Shoppe Manager Jessica Barela agrees. She says she would like to see more people come to downtown Eldridge instead of go to Davenport. She says the extra traffic would be boost in business.

"I would like to see it being more like the Dewitt downtown, more like a shopping area where you see different businesses and you can walk around the streets and explore the different fun cute businesses around," Barela said.

Residents say they are open to the idea as well. They say the downtown definitely leaves a lot to the imagination.

"Something is needed. It looks too vacant, kind of a ghost town. As we were coming here today did a little u-turn and thought 'oh my goodness all these empty run down buildings.' We would like to see something to kind of give it a lift," Resident Lisa Gelinske said.

City leaders say they are still in the very early stages when it comes to figuring out what to do about the downtown. However, they say the "Main Street Iowa" meeting they went to last week was very helpful and they are seriously considering applying to the program. There will be a community wide meeting about what the next step for the downtown will be on February 28th. That starts at 8:15 AM at Eldridge City Hall.

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