North of 96th - Lindsey

Welcome to North of 96th, your source for business news from Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield and Zionsville. Your host, Lindsey Erdody, can be reached at lerdody@ibj.com.

Zionsville / Boone County / Regional News / Restaurants / Retail

Study: Downtown Zionsville needs more restaurants

April 1, 2014

Zionsville is fiercely protective of its quaint downtown, and with good reason.

Mom-and-pop businesses line historic Main Street, drawing residents and visitors alike—a time-tested version of the community hubs other suburbs are spending millions to build.

But as leaders look to ramp up commercial activity in the largely residential town, they’re looking to a work-in-progress market study to help guide future development and make sure the jewel of the community keeps shining.

Early results suggest there’s room to grow.

Village merchants produce an estimated $21.9 million in annual sales, or about 9 percent of Zionsville’s total spending power, according to a market-share analysis from consultant Business Districts Inc. The suggested goal: 13 percent.

Getting there means filling existing vacancies, developing as much as 10,000 square feet of new space and strengthening the business mix on Main.

The study found downtown offers plenty of antiques, art and jewelry options—not to mention hair and nail salons—but could use more eating and drinking establishments in particular.

Business owners also need to do a better job of marketing themselves (and the Village) to potential customers.

“Obscurity, not competition, is the biggest challenge for retail businesses,” said consultant Diane Williams of BDI.

A parking study from consulting partner TADI—founded as Traffic Analysis & Design Inc. but now known simply by its acronym—concluded that downtown has ample parking despite a perception that spaces are in short supply. At peak demand (weekdays at noon), just 77 percent of public parking is in use.

Even so, any development in the Village likely would have to include at least some on-site parking.

The consultants identified three potential redevelopment sites downtown, including unused lots at the high-profile intersection of Main and Sycamore streets. The town owns the former PNC Bank property on the northwest corner, and Indianapolis developer Buckingham Cos. controls the southwest corner. (Find the latest on its plans here.)

A full report is expected this spring, said Wayne DeLong, Zionsville’s director of planning and economic development. Then comes the hard part: implementation.

What’s your take on the business mix in downtown Zionsville? What does the Village need?

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