Antioch's downtown revival making progress, officials say
The owners of Timeless Treasures in downtown Antioch recently hosted a grand reopening after moving the business across Main Street, a celebration village officials say is a sign of bigger things for the area on the horizon.
"A much larger location, three times the size," said co-owner Sam Staton-Griffin, who did not seek any village incentive to help with the move. "It's kind of a unique building with a lot of room. We needed to grow."
Timeless Treasures' relocation and other projects recently completed, approved or planned -- including the proposed renovation of the PM & L Theatre facade -- are signs the area is on the right track, officials say.
"Right now, we're working with three business on substantial facade (improvement plans)," said Michael Garrigan, the village's community development director. "These are programs that go well beyond awnings."
The facade program -- along with targeted, substantial incentives -- is among the main tools the village is using to revive old buildings and spark interest downtown.
The intent is to return buildings to their historic looks as best as possible, as many have been altered over the years. Like other small town centers, Main Street in Antioch has seen better days, but concentrated efforts are starting to create what the village hopes is a ripple effect.
"It's one facade at a time, literally," Garrigan said.
The genesis was in February 2015, with the reopening of the Antioch Theatre after an extensive renovation funded in part by a ticket tax instituted by the village. In 2017, the village approved a $250,000 grant for renovation of a long vacant building for Lovin' Oven Cakery, which opened in January.
Smaller projects followed, but it was October's grand opening of Waldron Construction, which received about $15,000 from the village to renovate the space at 889 Main St., that is driving interest.
"That is a really fabulous example of what we're trying to achieve," said village Trustee Mary Dominiak, the board's liaison for economic development.
The downtown went through a phase of the retirements and deaths of longtime owners and operators and it is taking awhile for momentum to build, she added.
"We've learned different businesses in different buildings have different needs. We've expanded the facade program for businesses to apply for matches for bigger projects and smaller projects," Dominiak said.
A major project on the horizon is a proposed $1.5 million conversion of a large vacant beauty salon on the southern end of downtown to Rivalry Ale House. The village has authorized a $200,000 incentive for the project, with construction expected to begin early next year.
There is $150,000 in the village budget for facades, Garrigan said. But an influx of money for that and other possibilities is expected in spring.
"We'll have a business district tax and we can share the revenue for new downtown projects," he said.