Impact of current economic environment on 200 block of Clematis Street

One thing that has amazed me during the past three years walking up and down Clematis Street (especially the 200 block), has been the different directions that the national economy and Clematis Street have been taking. From 2006-2008, few would dispute that the real estate market, and then the national economy, has been in a free-fall. At the same time, activity on Clematis Street has been on an upswing, with many empty storefronts being replaced by successful businesses with large crowds. The 200 block of Clematis Street has seen the most such positive activity.

Can this positive trend on Clematis Street continue in 2009, given the negative sentiment that is gripping the national and even world economies? Only the future can answer that question. But clearly, no one is immune to the massive economic downturn. Apparently business is down significantly (as much as 30%) for most of the Clematis Street businesses, comparing the 2008 holiday season to 2007. This certainly must be putting on a strain on the finances of these brave entrepreneurs who have put their faith in their business plans and the Clematis Street location.

One nearby business (though not on Clematis Street) has already closed its doors. Visitors to the popular seafood restaurant Spoto's on the 100 block of Datura Street were greeted in late December 2008 with a closed sign, along with a thank you note for their patronage over the past 11 years. It is important that the Clematis Street boosters in the City and elsewhere not let their guard down. A lot of hard work has been done over the past few years to bring Clematis Street back, and it would be a real shame if the current economic downturn reverses that success.

I am very confident that, because of the location, the strong infrastructure that has been built, and the superior mix of public buildings and private investments on the street, this will not occur. At the same time that the economy tanks, projects such as the City Center and the Clematis waterfront project that were planned years ago are coming to fruition and will offset the negative forces.

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