Some Carbondale businesses question strip's future while others - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Some Carbondale businesses question strip's future while others remain optimistic

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CARBONDALE -- Some business owners and managers on the strip of Carbondale worry about the future of their establishments, while others remain optimistic about the future of downtown.

In the last six months, the strip lost two business, including Sabor de Mel and El Greco. City officials told News 3 people have already expressed interest in the El Greco space, so they may be opening their doors again soon.

This comes after the city invested more than one million dollars in its streetscape project to beautify the area, by adding new streetlights, planters, tree wells, sidewalks and retaining walls. These are steps city leaders said are proven to have positive impacts on growth.

"I would say the beatification is only one step of the process," said Nathan Colombo, board member and show coordinator at the Varsity Center, adding the responsibility also lies on the businesses to provide a quality experience.

“While the immediate feeling may be less than positive as we’re experiencing growing pains, the long term reality is a positive one for our downtown space," Colombo said.

Despite the closings of neighboring businesses, Colombo said he's confident in the strip's future. But, other business leaders are not as optimistic. Some managers told News 3 they already feel the impact of getting less foot traffic from students, due to the decline in SIUC enrollment.

Matt Davis, who works at Artistic Mind Tattoos and Body Piercing, said he's seen a fair share of businesses coming and going in the area.

"The strip, it's a questionable one, with enrollment being down, you never know what's going to stick around and what isn't," Davis said. 

However, he's hopeful the tattoo shop will stick around.

"Tattoo shops are a niche market that don't really go away," Davis said. "People always need a place to live, people always want to get tattoos and piercings."

Both Colombo and Davis remain confident in the future of downtown Carbondale.

"You're not just going to Carbondale to go to school, you're going to Carbondale to experience life," Colombo said.

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