Filling vacant storefronts tops new strategic plan for Barton Village BIA

Vacant property will be open for viewing as the Barton Village BIA

Barton Village BIA gateways.

Barton Village BIA gateways.

looks for ways to fill empty storefronts.

Vacant businesses and access to the area are high on the BIA’s list of things to do in a new strategic plan adopted last November.

A city officials says the approach worked well when it was tried on Ottawa Street.

“The Ottawa Street BIA did this around 15 years ago because it had a similar problem and you can now see the results,” said Michael Marini, marketing co-ordinator of the City of Hamilton’s Economic Development Department. “It was one of the efforts to bring people back to the street and the vacancy rate has dramatically reduced on Ottawa Street.”

The Barton Village BIA discussed marketing the area at a meeting Marini attended last month and the idea of a real estate viewing was brought up.

“You have to start marketing the properties because they are available properties,” he explained.

The new strategic plan also looks at accessibility to visitors, investment in the village, beautification of the streets and the enforcement of city bylaws, explained executive director Shelly Wonch. The BIA is also investigating a farmer’s market.

“We’re directly working with the Economic Development department at City Hall and they have business development consultants that we’re working with us regarding our vacancies,” Wonch said. She said an open house of properties will take place in the spring or early summer.

The BIA also wants to make Barton Village easier to visit.

“We want to be one of the most accessible districts in Hamilton,” said Wonch. “The BIA and community partners are currently working on increasing the accessibility as we renew our neighbourhood.”

This isn’t just washrooms in restaurants, but also accessibility on the streets and safety of street corners.

Plans are moving along quickly but major changes and developments will take place over the next three to five years.

“Barton Village is an affordable area and it’s growing and renewing itself,” said Wonch. “If businesses would like to invest in an area that is changing and growing, they should come and see us; there’s a lot of opportunities here for all businesses, not just retail.”

The 25-year-old BIA takes in the largest area in the city. Recent initiatives include gateway signs in the east and west end of the village.

The signs were designed by City of Hamilton architect David Zimmer with direction from the BIA and light up at night.

“It’s a nice addition to the village that welcomes people into the area,” said Wonch.

The BIA has been invited to sit on the Community Advisory Committee of the Pan Am Committee and will become an active participant in the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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