Downtown Carbondale Businesses Abuzz About Redevelopment

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Jared Roberts

CARBONDALE -- The Carbondale city council is now considering a developer's plans to re-work part of the downtown strip, replacing the 710 bookstore building. The proposal is creating buzz among downtown businesses, some good, some bad. 

There've been few changes on the Carbondale strip in the past decades. A testament Jerry Brooks can make after 50 years in business with Jerry's Flowers. So the news that a well-known business building will be torn down is a bit surprising.
     
"We were here a year before that shopping center was built. I never thought I'd live to see the day that it might be demolished and rebuilt," says Brooks.
   
In its place, Tartan Development Company wants to construct a multi-use building with retail space on the main floor and apartments above.
     
"The downtown really needs it, and I think my business can only profit from it," says Lush Salon owner Rachael Bonner.
 
Bonner will get a direct view of the redevelopment. The only concern she has is what will happen to all the parking behind the 710 bookstore.
 
"Our parking lot is terrible, so a lot of our customers have to park in that parking lot behind 710," she explains. "But if they can figure out something on how to do the parking, I think it would be great."
     
Bonner is not the only one with parking concerns, but Meghan Cole with Carbondale Main Street says parking is part of the development plans and there are other factors to consider.
 
"You're also getting residents living, walking to coffee shops, walking to bars and other restaurants. I don't think you can put a value on 300 people living across the street from your business."
 
Brooks says he's not so sure the city needs more student housing, but he's ready to see what kind of change this project will mean for the next 50 years on the strip.
 
The plans presented last week are just preliminary. There are several more steps before the project can break ground. But Tartan Development hopes to have the building up by the start of the 2015 fall semester.
 
Cole says the 710 Bookstore has tentative plans to relocate.
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