Clematis Street 500 block and 300 block struggling

We're entering into the dark days of summer for the 500 block (and some other blocks) of Clematis Street. Could this be the storm before the light? The City Center opening on the 400 block was supposed to invigorate surrounding blocks but it hasn't happened yet. And the impact of the economy (particularly the problems in the commercial real estate market) are sounding the death knell for some small businesses.

Sole Estate (the footwear boutique) on the 500 block of Clematis Street appears to have disappeared. There are still things inside the Lars Bolander outlet, but now large signs outside say that they are doing business at this location only by appointment, and they refer customers to another outlet somewhere on Dixie Highway. As far as nightclubs, to be honest, I'm not awake when they are at their busiest, so it is hard to judge who is open and who isn't, but I don't see much activity around Ray's Downtown Blues or The Lounge, though they may still be in business. And the Phat Sandwiches location has been gutted (they have moved three blocks away). The 6-store building where they were located is now plastered with several different handwritten signs saying for sale and for rent, and only 1 store is occupied. There has been no visible activity regarding the other vacant buildings on the block, including the old buildings on the southeast corner that were supposed to come down last year. The new retail units in the nice new parking garage on the northeast corner are all still empty.

I try to maintain a positive attitude about things most of the time, but there really isn't much positive to say right now about the 500 block. If it weren't for the Irish pub O'Sheas, which seems to continue to do well, the block would be all but dead. As walkingclematis has reported before, the Downtown Development Authority is making efforts to improve this block, and it is well-located right next to City Center and the future center of downtown between Clematis and City Place. But right now, in early June 2009, it's a ghost town.

The gloom is not restricted to the 500 block. The 300 block has also seen some departures. Munoz Photography (in the Comeau building) has now cleaned out and disappeared from the scene. The old site of Bonds Restaurant, which previously had a sign posted saying "closed for renevations (sp?)", now has additional signs posted by official sources announcing last notice of eviction and tax liens. More empty office space has been created on the 300 block by the move of the City's community events office, presumably into the City Center. And the previous departure of the huge Z Gallerie store has left the impression of mostly vacancies on this block as well.

Hopefully the spillover effects from all the new traffic coming to the 400 block City Center City Hall and library will soon have a positive influence on the 500 block and the 300 block, but right now they are both hurting.

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