Every time a story is published about the BLVD the first comment is always related to Parking.. OK, That’s not true the first comment is “How is Rex personally making a buck off of it.” then “Where are people going to park?”
Well as a small business owner and 35 + year resident of the community I have been very critical of every step that is taken in the development of The BLVD. My extended family owns a business on the BLVD and has been there since before the redevelopment was started. They have survived through multiple relocations (two on the BLVD) and through the months that they had no front door, no street and no real foot traffic. Today the business is booming and every time I stop in for a treat they have people in their enjoying the unique confections they have to offer. I didn’t ask for permission to talk about them so I will not say their name, but they are a big reason why my wife and I decided to start our business.
Now unlike a lot of businesses I actually spent a lot of time and effort researching our business, wrote a very thorough business plan and considered a lot of locations for our type of business. However after weighing all of those factors we knew that the only logical place for us would be the BLVD. It offered the vehicle and pedestrian traffic that we wanted and the urban downtown look and feel that our type of business is generally found within. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s good enough that we can work with what it has to offer.
Over the last year I have met many of the business owners of the BLVD, people that I consider the foundation of what the BLVD is really about, community. From Roger Hemme at Bohn’s Printing, Chris and Rena at Graphic Experience, Stokely Wilson of King Photo (now ECellar E-consignments), Bob Turner of Aven’s Furniture to April Ray of Daisy’s Costumes and the list goes on. I think anyone who has lived in Lancaster for more than 20 years knows (like family) someone who makes a livelihood on the BLVD. In each of the cases above these are the same people that have been on the BLVD since it was nothing, but Law offices and Banks. They are also all still on the BLVD today and while some may be considering retiring, they all fight every day to provide products and services the community wants and needs.
Now times are changing and so is the business model for the BLVD. Not every business is a good fit, but the fact of the matter is the only type of business that is not allowed to be located on the BLVD is Bail Bonds. Other than that it’s up to the relationship between the landlord and tenant. As the popularity of the BLVD increases so will the cost of doing business on the BLVD. It’s a fact that I as (one of the smallest in sqft) a business owner on the BLVD has to be prepared for. Additionally with popularity comes traffic and managing that traffic is the key the all future success of the BLVD.
There is no doubt that if both vehicle and pedestrian traffic cannot be managed in an efficient and convenient manner that no amount of money, whether from the City, redevelopment agency or private investor will make a difference. That is why it is good to know that there is a plan in place to not only address but fully manage as many foreseeable aspects of traffic as possible. The Downtown Parking Strategy Study was approved funding by city council on 9/27/11 and over the last 6 months been researched, reviewed, discussed, and presented to businesses, the city and the public for review. Additional presentations will be made a future council meetings and again open for discussion. It’s possible that something may have been missed in the process and be presented at that time, but if everyone is willing to positively contribute it can only help the whole community. Remember there are 180 businesses in the downtown district that are in no way associated with the recent developments of the BLVD, were there many years before and want to be there many years in the future.