The year 2014 could be a new beginning for one of the older retail shopping areas of the city, according to Mayor Herb Adams.
Retail development on East Osage enjoyed a heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s when shopping was so brisk in the city’s first strip mall that shop owners had to park on the opposite side of the street.
After flourishing for several decades the area went into decline, but it is still ideally located for economic gain, according to Adams.
“This area is one of the earliest retail districts, after the old downtown,” he said. “Now the time is right to recapture the heyday of economic activity there.”
During a special board meeting Dec. 23, aldermen approved the formation of the East Osage Community Improvement District (CID), which will raise funds and oversee improvements of the district.
Adams appointed five board members to administer the CID — Harold Selby, Kim Barfield, Dan Rahn, Joel Cracchiolo and Gary Howe.
The city was authorized to form the CID following a petition signed by the majority of businesses and property owners in the district that spans an area from Seventh Street to Clear Creek Road.
“I’m really pleased with the response from the west end businesses and residents,” Adams said. “This would not have happened without their cooperation. They saw a need for these improvements. We just hope now that the east end does what the west end has proven to do.”
The mayor said history has shown that appearances matter greatly when prospective businesses select a site to build a new business.
“We’re going to beautify that end of town and we know that will make us feel good, but we will soon see other improvements besides sidewalks, curbs and lights,” Adams said. “I hope to see economic improvements in the way of new retail establishments that will bring consumers to that end of town.
“We want all the retailers in the city to share in the proven growth we’ve seen on the west end,” he said. “We saw a lot of economic improvement on the west end, some of that was decided by the improvement that were made there through the West Osage CID.”
Adams referenced the new Save-A-Lot grocery store that will be constructed at 2700 W. Osage. Contractors broke ground on the building site in December and plan to open the store before the summer of 2014.
“We also have a serious developer looking at the Eckelkamp, or Lazy Larry, property,” Adams said. “I approached a developer several years ago about Pacific. After the improvements we did on West Osage that developer decided to get back to developing the property.
“He saw what the improvements did for the area,” he said. “I’m hoping to have a major announcement on West Osage in January or February. I have those same hopes for the east end.”
The city has been looking at the formation of an East Osage CID for the past three years.
“While we were in the middle of engineering the West Osage improvements we started planning for similar work on East Osage,” Adams said.
Retail establishments located within the CID boundaries that will begin in July 2014 will collect a special 1 percent sales tax to fund the city’s portion of the improvement project.
Rebuilding East Osage to mirror improvements on West Osage was a major goal for Adams.
Work on the new road, curbs, sidewalk, vintage lights and trees is expected to be completed by August 2014.