Public square improvements noted by LDA

Friday, August 24, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Improvements on and near the public square were reviewed by Lewisburg Downtown Alliance directors Tuesday evening when they met in the Historic First Avenue Building.

That building, previously known as the Ladies Restroom, is where LDA leaders plan to meet on Monday at 2 p.m. with Katie Pace, executive director of the Jackson (Tenn.) Downtown Development Corp., to learn more from others on what can be done to bring more business to the public square.

The LDA is in the Tennessee Downtowns Grant process and part of that is pairing applicants with another community that's already designated as a Main Street USA community.

Such a designation is a goal for Lewisburg and the LDA in conjunction with downtown redevelopment that includes expanded use of buildings around a public square or Main Street.

Lewisburg is paired with Jackson, Tenn., and Pace's visit is to continue conversations and obtain more information, she said.

"I have everything on paper that the LDA is trying to do and know their challenges and their successes," Pace said. "Hopefully, our meetings Monday will help me figure out how to best help them by offering different perspectives on things that have worked in Jackson.

"They're very aggressive with their plans and goals," she said, reflecting on how enthusiasm can out pace time, resources and opportunities. "The hardest thing to do is say no when you want to tackle everything."

Pace will be asking LDA leaders, "What are the priorities?"

Pace used to live in Columbia and used to come to Lewisburg frequently, she said.

"For me, it's kind of getting back to the area," she said. "There are a million things to do."

Meanwhile, the LDA welcomed a new business coming to Lewisburg's square.

It is planned by Ken Lucas who moved to Tennessee from Florida for family reasons. Lucas' business is to be called On the Square, Men's Consignment and Retail, a men's clothing business he's operated elsewhere. He anticipates that 75 percent of his customers will be women bringing clothing to be sold. He's currently buying clothes for the store planned at 123 W. Commerce St., where a mattress store has been operating. Oct. 1 is Lucas' targeted opening date.

Other changes on and around the square reported by Carden include a new awning for the building that houses the Tennessee Technology Center on West Commerce Street. Area residents had been reporting the poor condition of the now-replaced awning to City Codes Officer Buck Beard who found out that Lewisburg owns the building and that has apparently led to the installation of a new awning.

Lewisburg City Manager Tommy Engram attended the Tuesday meeting when Carden noted he's interested in the concept of improving the square's appearance in conjunction with what's described as streetscape by city planners, architects, engineers and landscapers. Streetscape "is applicable to our downtown," Carden said.

"Change is slowly coming to downtown Lewisburg," Carden said, noting the return of food service at the Christian bookstore, Primitive Blessings, the move of John Price's Music Store from the bypass to a building recently purchased by Randy Perryman. "People drive through the square and never notice what's changing, but it is changing."

In other discussion Tuesday, the LDA leaders appear headed toward adjusting the schedule of historic car cruise-in events on the square.