By Gus Pearcy
Whether your metaphor is a square peg in a round or the opposite, Downtown Danville is looking pretty hip these days.
Since a 2007 study of downtown suggested that Danville could revitalize the quaint atmosphere, a local group, with the help from the Town of Danville, has created small town America.
In the last few months, the Town Square has added several new businesses including Katie’s on the Square, Diggity hot dog cafe, Stars and Stripes Forever motorcycle shop, and the Danville Community Network which is the town’s provider for community-wide high speed internet service.
“I think people are starting to recognize the benefits of our warm and welcoming community with a variety of things to do and places to eat,” Executive Director of the greater Danville Chamber of Commerce, Marcia Lynch said. “I think the Danville Downtown Partnership has had a lot to do with that.”
The Downtown Danville Partnership committee is a non-profit group made up of stakeholders in the community including the town officials.
Lynch says that she thinks there are other businesses that would do well in the small town square setting.
“People have said they would like to see a bicycle shop open up here with accessories and stuff like that,” Lynch said. “A gourmet pet food store is one thing people keep talking about. My favorite is an art store.”
Greg VanLaere, a board member with the Greater Danville Chamber of Commerce and a square tenant, is a member of the Retention and Recruitment subcommittee of the Downtown Partnership. He is looking for niches to be filled by existing downtown merchants. He said Bailey’s Jury Room will bring a comedian in every Wednesday to fill a niche for a comedy club on the west side.
VanLaere points out the town government’s willingness to create more parking around the square by buying up several homes and creating lots that sit no more than a block away.
“It’s kind of like which came first, the chicken or the egg?” he said. “Well, what comes first, the parking or the shops? If you have the shops, you have no parking. But if you have the parking, well that brings shops.”
This summer, the chamber will once again host concerts on the square. This year’s series will include Cook & Belle on June 18, Duke Tomatoe on July 16, Tim Grimm on Aug. 20, and Jennie Devoe on Sept. 17.