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Downtown Belleville business owners look forward after revitalization

trees

Downtown business owners will leave their Christmas trees out until late January after the trees’ positive reception from the community. Photo by Justin Medve, QNet News

 By Justin Medve [1]

BELLEVILLE – Holiday spirits are strong in Belleville’s downtown core, but they haven’t distracted business owners from planning bigger and better initiatives for the new year.

At a brainstorming session this past Tuesday, members of the business community discussed plans to expand on events that attract their patrons, such as holding a “spring fling” alongside Doc Fest [2].

Sharon Huckle, owner of Nice Ice Baby Ice Cream [3], where the meeting took place, says the group wants to have a downtown that is exciting and all-inclusive.

“We want to partner with as many groups and people as possible so these events can have a huge impact and people get used to coming downtown,” she said.

One of those at Tuesday’s meeting, Lisa Anne Chatten, told QNet News she is excited to continue building downtown’s reputation as an exciting place to be.

“Some of the best movers and shakers were in that room tonight,” she said. “Anytime that you see committees coming together and collectively finding answers to problems that affect everybody, you’re going to find a better solution faster,” she said.

Chatten didn’t hesitate to volunteer for a newly brainstormed event that would add a downtown tour element to the Savour the Chill [4] soup-tasting event held in February.

Huckle said she’d like to see Savour the Chill turn into something that keeps people downtown for five hours rather than just enough time to taste soup.

Business owners agreed that lining up when events take place and what they have to offer will be key to boosting their audience.

Some of the ideas are still tentative, but Huckle says she’d like to see a common theme in all of them.

“Music, art, retail, restaurants – each event should have those components and then we’ll plug the right people into them,” she said.

Although business owners are looking ahead, 2016 still has some sights to see.

Moviegoers can enjoy a free screening of holiday movies at The Empire Theatre [5] in the week leading up to Christmas. The Empire’s Andy Forgie says the event is an appreciation and celebration of downtown patrons.

“It’s a big thank-you, but also the timing is just right because our downtown has just been recently opened up after two very long years of construction and annoyance and all of the things that go along with it.”

The theatre will also be hosting a New Year’s Eve concert where All You Need Is Love [6], a Beatles cover band that Forgie is part of, will perform.

Kathryn Brown, owner of Kate’s Kitchen [7], asked businesses to keep their Christmas trees lining the streets into January after positive community feedback on them.

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