OFFBEAT: Build the future, protect the past

Dick's Sporting Goods. Famous Footwear. CiCi's Pizza. Plato's Closet. And the business I'm anticipating
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Dick's Sporting Goods.

Famous Footwear.

CiCi's Pizza.

Plato's Closet.

And the business I'm anticipating most... Borders Books & Music.

These are just a handful of the new businesses popping up in Sandusky over the next few months and I have to say I'm antsy with anticipation.

It's not that I'm a shopaholic or anything, but I hail from Toledo and miss all the businesses that were once at my fingertips.

Some of my coworkers find amenities such as having Meijer and Kroger located within a five-minute drive from home to be exciting. Coming from a city 11 times the size of Sandusky, I find this amusing compared to what I was used to.

But besides being excited about new shopping centers, eateries and a bookstore coffee shop, I see this booming business as a positive reflection on where Sandusky is heading. When crime rates are steady and numerous houses downtown are unkempt, the city is desperately in need of some positive influence, even if it's in the form of brand-new retail outlets.

While Cedar Point, outdoor waterparks and the Lake Erie islands bring a plethora of summertime visitors, the building of additional year-round businesses shows there are enough people here in the off-season to support the economy. To me that means our town is growing, and not diminishing like some may think.

This may help bring in more visitors and tax revenue to fund proposals such as the marina district revitalization project and a joint policing facility.

Some may also argue that areas of downtown need to be built up and improved more than building newer structures on open land and plazas in Perkins Township. I understand and side with this to a degree.

But the alternative would be to build these structures downtown. Would I like to see downtown historic buildings full of rich history razed to make room for the latest footwear store? Absolutely not.

I don't think many of these new Perkins Township businesses just mentioned would look all that appropriate downtown anyway. Historic downtown needs to be preserved, yet newer businesses can move in, if so desired, in a subtle manner.

Corporate businesses could move downtown if they preserved the facades of old buildings. In addition, more of these historic buildings could and should easily be converted into office space and locally-owned and operated businesses.

But from what I understand it's usually more expensive to renovate and repair dilapidated structures, compared to building something new on empty land. That's the unfortunate part of this idea probably holding some developers back.

I would also like to see older buildings continue to be renovated and preserved such as the new Chesapeake Lofts condominiums project at the old Hinde & Dauch Paper Co. on Shoreline Drive.

Another similar project is the plan to redevelop the former Rieger Hotel on Market Street into loft-style apartments. Despite bricks falling from the edifice earlier this summer, I too hope this project comes to fruition.

While I look forward to these new businesses bringing growth and commerce to the city, I also hope those approving these developments keep in mind the need to preserve the area's natural resources and the rich history Sandusky has to offer.