How would you improve downtown?

City commissioner hopefuls explain how they would lure businesses, tourists to the area
Andy Ouriel
Oct 19, 2013
Just like vinyl records or Justin Timberlake’s music career, downtown Sandusky is all about an impressive comeback.

About 30 new businesses — everything from restaurants to clothing shops — have joined the makeup of downtown over the past few years.

There’s also a growing list of festivals and regular events, including the Sandusky Art Walk, Cruisin’ by the Bay and Ohio Bike Week, the latter drawing a record 160,000 motorcyclists and tourists this past summer.

City commission candidates view downtown as the seed to continue growing interest in Sandusky. At a recent Register political forum at Sandusky High School, a student asked how candidates would improve downtown in hopes of luring businesses and enticing people to visit.

Here are the responses from the seven candidates vying for three open seats on Nov. 5:

• “It’s the government’s responsibility to stay out of the way and we make it easy for private investment, building departments and building officials to accomplish what they need to do.” — Dick Brady

• “We’ve got to support the Sandusky State Theatre and the arts in this community. That is so critical in the community. We need to stay out of the way of business and let them do what they do best.” — Diedre Cole, city commissioner    

• “Reinforce survival and safety. I believe the city of Sandusky, because of the high winds and rains that we’ve had within downtown, we should have a disaster center.” — Patricia Ferguson

• “We need to focus on the housing stock. People come to a city first. Once you have residents, they will support businesses that are here. We got some really cool old houses in Sandusky. A lot of it is really affordable and easy to heat and cool.” — Dennis Murray Jr.

• “We need people with ideas to implement them. We’re sitting on revolving loan fund money available for entrepreneurs. It’s up to government to create an environment for these businesses to flourish in.” — John Hamilton, ex officio mayor

• “We need to continue what we are doing. Downtown has experienced a great rebirth, and that’s mostly been through private investment. The city has money it can loan for aspiring or existing businesses. We obviously have to keep that going. We have to do whatever we can to encourage local entrepreneurs and people with ideas.” — Scott Schell

• “I think we should be continuing on the path we are on.” — Naomi Twine

Comments

doratheexplorer

Casino boats!

Clark W. Griswald

Saloon/casino/ broth el

The Answer Person

They, the commissioners past and present, have totally missed the boat so to speak.
Watchdog types have driven investors away with arguing and road blocks for decades.
There is NO REASON for any people from out of town to go there.

Seriously.

There is no business other than boutique type individual ones...struggling.
There are NO HOTELS of ANY sort.
There is NO WAY to get anywhere to nor from downtown.
You can't get to Cedar Point from downtown anymore.
There is a plethora of annoying stoplights if you want to get to the Mall where stores are (sort of).
While there are some really nicer places to eat downtown, there are a also couple of places to eat downtown which suffer from the disgusting apathy of their staff and owners.
The State Theater, while a super venue, cannot do it alone. You can fill it nightly but when the show is over, the patrons STILL go home to their houses NOT downtown.
Adding more senior or low income housing built by feel good do-gooders will NOT help in the least. THESE PEOPLE DO NOT SPEND MONEY!!!

Bottom line:
It will never change. It will continue on as it has been and morph a little here and there. SMALL struggling individual businesses will continue to open and close. Value City type businesses will continue on because of their support from their mother ship in Columbus. Commissioners will continue to be intimidated by mouthy community self-interest individuals who pay little or nothing and will continue to give away premium property and streets to businesses who eviscerate neighborghoods in the name of "jobs and redevelopment".

It is over. What you see is what you get/have. There will be nothing in our lifetimes to match the fantasy of what everyone THINKS it once was...which it never was.

Have a great weekend...somewhere!

pavedparadise

@ The Answer

Very confusing comments.

Not quite sure about your reference to "Watchdog types have driven investors away with arguing and road blocks for decades" when the Register reports 30 new businesses downtown in recent years.

Go to the City's web-page and search SPARC transit. There are several transit stops downtown. Take a ride for a couple bucks.

A hotel downtown ---really?

The Answer Person

Yes REALLY, a hotel. that is a no brainer for bed tax and moneyies spent on entertainment. Tourists spend money. That is why they come to a resort. Unfortunately going to Cedar Point is their ONLY goal because there is nothing else.
Sandusky downtown has NO destination nor goal. There is NOTHING there to go to...but if you think so, let's assume they do come. If they come once, WHY would they come back a second or third time?

What are you observations and answers? 30 businesses? Whoopee doo! How many have folded after struggling along and losing their entire investment while waiting for your purchases and your imaginary customers?

What it is, is what it will always be.

Read the letter from Theodore Stellhorn in the 1924 Sandusky Centennial souvenir book. In it he says that the naysayers shall be proven wrong and that Sandusky is on the verge of success. Prosperity is just around the corner.

We are not Charlie Sheen saying "WINNING!"
We are saying, "WAITING..."zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The Answer Person

Yes REALLY, a hotel. that is a no brainer for bed tax and moneyies spent on entertainment. Tourists spend money. That is why they come to a resort. Unfortunately going to Cedar Point is their ONLY goal because there is nothing else.
Sandusky downtown has NO destination nor goal. There is NOTHING there to go to...but if you think so, let's assume they do come. If they come once, WHY would they come back a second or third time?

What are you observations and answers? 30 businesses? Whoopee doo! How many have folded after struggling along and losing their entire investment while waiting for your purchases and your imaginary customers?

What it is, is what it will always be.

Read the letter from Theodore Stellhorn in the 1924 Sandusky Centennial souvenir book. In it he says that the naysayers shall be proven wrong and that Sandusky is on the verge of success. Prosperity is just around the corner.

We are not Charlie Sheen saying "WINNING!"
We are saying, "WAITING..."zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Lissa4u

"There will be nothing in our lifetimes to match the fantasy of what everyone THINKS it once was...which it never was."

Answer person, you are wrong! Downtown used to be a vibrant place. There were stores such as Lasalles, Grey Drugstore, Carol Cranes, Jupitor, Woolworths, Holzapples, Sears, etc...and they were busy all the time. You could never find a parking space. There were people walking the streets. Things downtown didn't change until they built the mall on 250. That's when the downtown started to go downhill. The people left downtown to go to the mall and some of the the store followed and the rest of them tried to hang on as long as they could.

Downtown Sandusky WAS vibrant. It wasn't a fantasy. You are either someone who moved here from somewhere else, or you are too young to remember just what it was like back then.

Stop It

+1! My mom used to take us downtown to get school clothes in the 60's.

pavedparadise

Answer Person from another planet I suspect

Unassumer

Same with the improvement discussions on downtown Port Clinton. Will never change/improve. It's a parking lot for Put-in-Bay. Period.

Yellow Snow

Know what I miss? Jupiters, there was a dime store, Lassale's. I know they're gone, but they had selections. I wouldn't want to see a Dollar Store, but the other stores had options for any wallet. Specialty stores are great if you have a specific need or want, those that offer variety would do well. Charge for parking? No.

jetskier

Oh heck yes! I second the casino idea! That would be great!

fifteenthgreen

Sounds too logical.

queenjhb

Offer hourly tours , history lessons ,small tour bus, make it more interesting and people will come down for the tour & then spend a little cash for lunch , icecream or further sightseeing.

SamAdams

There are things that could be done (thought the disaster center comment is laughable at BEST -- there's ANOTHER candidate clearly too far off in la-la land to get my vote). The problem is that there's an organized group of naysayers in this town that slam the brakes on anything and everything that people have tried to do.

Hotel downtown? Casino? Great idea! Went down in flames some years back (and what a shame that was). More new businesses? City regulations and ordinances (sometimes seemingly selectively enforced) have caused problems there. Those who said the City should get out of the way are right; it's just that the City WON'T.

Here's some things that we can still do that WILL work:

1. Move festivals, etc. back downtown Putting them over by the City Building in the old Surf's Up site doesn't bring anybody downtown, and the fact it's no longer a short walking distance keeps some away.

2. Actively police the he11 out of downtown at night until the worst elements go ply their wares (and bad behavior) somewhere else. (I won't walk downtown at night, mostly because I'm not an idiot.)

3. If the State Theatre wants more people to go there, then it needs to bring in more popular events. The comment about Ron White was well taken. The Theatre CAN sell out! It's just that so many of the events there seem to target a pretty specific age (old) and genre (G-rated). I've only bought three tickets to the State: George Carlin, Alice Cooper, and a multi-comedian show (which, I assure you, was NOT G-rated). The shows were all sell-outs (or nearly so). I've said it for years, and I'll keep saying it since it's true: Have whatever family shows you like; but if you want to sell out, bring in something different!

It's hard enough to start a business, and many residents who CAN leave the downtown area are more and more likely to do so. Add another tax for the "privilege" of working and/or living near downtown, and you'll seal the deal for good. If you want to increase the tax base, go back to Option #1 above (and pray the "watchdogs" don't stop yet ANOTHER effort to actually DO something here).

fifteenthgreen

The issue with The State is the actual number of seats vs. what the acts charge. For example, Faith Hill in her early years, was willing to do a show but her fee was a minimum $150,000 plus, plus. Having only 1,200 or so seats wouldn't cover the cost due to having to charge enormous ticket prices for such higher end entertainment. Sadly, small town theaters will continue to struggle to find acts that counter this issue. You're absolutely correct about family shows. They may fill seats, but the revenue generated will not be enough to sustain the theater and it will eventually close....again. It already would have if it weren't for the generosity of a few, wealthy supporters.

SamAdams

You're right where "big name" acts are concerned. But nostalgia acts -- like Alice Cooper -- appeal to a whole different group (and frankly a larger one) than your average woodwind concerto group. I'm not saying one is BETTER than the other. I'm saying that one is more POPULAR than the other and will thus sell more tickets.

You may never manage to get the teens to show up for a concert because they're too young for affordable "nostalgia" shows (and in this town, I'm not sure I want that kind of crowd). But you WILL get the middle-aged people who LIKE Alice Cooper and Ron White.

Family-oriented? Great! Bring the kiddies downtown and enjoy. Classical performances for the old folks and the serious music lovers? By all means! But the State continues to forget those of us who don't fall into those categories.

Some years back, some people tried to get a film festival going. It would have been horror-themed. There was quite a bit of preliminary interest, but then the Theatre Board (don't know who's still on the Board and who isn't) intervened with all of their "Ooooh, let's have wine and cheese in the lobby!" and "Noooooo, we can't have any film that's not entirely family-friendly!" and the entire thing fizzled as a result.

Small town theatres DO have a hard time. But shouldn't that mean they ADD to their repertoire rather than lamenting they can't fill enough seats with that obscure harpist or yet another re-showing of "Toy Story?"

fifteenthgreen

Well said!

VOTENO

Wh ore houses

fifteenthgreen

Aren't there already some? If not, that comes with the casinos.

gramafun

It would be nice to have a "draw" downtown, but first you have to have something to offer. The city should try some sort of theme idea for the downtown area. You need to attract some "anchor" stores to go downtown to make it worthwhile as well. This shouldn't be too hard if you find the right anchors with which to do that. Then incorporate a nice hotel with a nice "hotspot" for the evening adult fun and make something worthwhile to attract young and old alike in your "theme". (and I don't mean Cedar Point).

I happen to know for a FACT that there were a couple of ideas given to the city commissioners over a year ago about this very thing and nothing was ever done about it. A meeting with two commissioners was held to do this. It went no where.

pavedparadise

@ Gramy

How about being more specific.

pavedparadise

hhh

sugar

I think downtown IS making a comeback. Dockside is fun, there are great restaurants, better then the chain ones on 250. Bringing upscale apartments and condos will drive what develops next. Who doesn't want to live on the water? NO more sweet deals for attorney's offices, or housing for the aged.

fifteenthgreen

Industry!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Or...I suppose if we could have a vision of a great downtown, there's an interesting one I am very familiar with...

http://youtu.be/QfZ30sfjdLY

Caution, this presentation may not be for everyone.

Though the above reference aside, going for an attempt of a unified theme or presentation would be pretty nice.

Stop It

That link reminds me of the old Myst games I used to play, HZ.

Don S

Do NOT put parking meters in. That alone will keep people away. Many people go to the businesses on Rt 250 for the free easy parking.

Build a convention center where the old American Crayon company is at.

Tear down the Keller building and build a parking garage there and charge a fee to park. I'm sure downtown business owners and residents will use it. Make the 1st floor secured by partly inclosing it and gating it.

Put LED lights over the entire street width, downtown from the courthouse to the waterfront. Span them between the buildings, they will probable use less electric than the present street lights.

Stop It

Living outside your city, I can say that getting to the downtown/city other than in broad daylight can be problematic. Just read this newspaper to see where the problems are. One block away from the cop shop and you are in trouble. Head south, east or west from the county courthouse and you'll run into trouble if not careful. It's almost like one can't get to the city epicenter from any direction other than the lake without feeling as if they are in Thugville, USA. We don't call it Little Detroit for the hell of it.

Gambling and whorehouses will not make it better. The ones saying it will, are the problem you have in what could be a very lucrative place to have a thriving downtown on the bay. One has to go through "their" part of the city to get there, though. From all directions other than the lake.

fifteenthgreen

Lucrative, how? Agree that there is no major interstate so that is one huge issue. Agree on the crime issue. Tell me what your draw is going to be on a twelve month basis.

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