Through the years, cities and their romantic downtowns have been written about, sung about, and studied by sociologists. Today, foreclosures and a housing slump may dog the economy, but downtowns sometimes are exempt.
Currently, Denver’s commercial center is catching national press attention as it transforms itself into a vibrant residential and entertainment hub.
Lyons is one of the smaller communities in the nation that is experiencing a similar downtown renaissance. It will celebrate this transformation on May 15.
Business people will sit at tables lining the newly revamped Main Street, during a giant, old-fashioned Saturday street fair called “Celebrate Lyons!” It opens at 9 a.m. Banners will be flying on lamp posts, and scores of new street-side gardens will be full of plants, while the aroma of Andrea’s famous pastries will waft through the air.
The open-air market on Main Street also will resume its seasonal business that day. The celebratory event is sponsored by the Lyons Area Chamber of Commerce, and the town has much to celebrate -- both the completion of downtown renovations that was first conceived four years ago, with the creation of a citizen’s Downtown Improvement Committee, and the revitalization of businesses.
New businesses and restaurants, current restaurants with exciting new menus, bustling coffee shops, a renovated grocery store with an in-house bakery, a national business with a storefront renovation—all have lent to a new vitality.
This is a change from former years, when business failures in Lyons were common – a total of 52 failures occurred in one single block, from 1991 to 2007. Last year, there were 12 empty stores downtown, and today there is only one.
“Everybody has worked together to achieve this,” said John E. O’Brien, head of the Lyons Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve become more knowledgeable about financing and investment, and have essentially become a town that’s pulled itself up by its own bootstraps.”
Many businesses are participating in the “Celebrate Lyons!” street fair by offering a gift or certificate to those who stop by their roadside tables. This Spring, a celebration of renewal seems particularly appropriate. The installation of new landscaping completes the rejuvenation of Lyons’ Main Street Business District. For the first time in recent memory the town’s commercial core has a welcoming historic luster with virtually no vacant storefronts. Responding to the rejuvenation, several businesses have just opened, expanded and/or renovated their premises. The new St. Vrain Market quickly became a source of community pride. Ma’s Pizzeria expanded into a sports bar. New owners revitalized the Cilantro Mary restaurant. On The Rocks Bistro opened and quickly established a regular clientele. Experience Boutique returned to Main Street. Big Foot Liquor Store is opening in May. The Barking Dog Coffee Shop moved, expanded and is preparing to offer patio service. All these changes occurred since January in response to the enhancements to downtown Lyons. The adjacent High Street commercial area was upgraded last year and shares the “Celebrate Lyons” spotlight on economic rejuvenation.