CINCINNATI - The Cincinnati business landscape has endured dramatic changes over the past few years. With the reemergence of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, the updates to Fountain Square and the development of The Banks project, people in the general downtown Cincinnati area have witnessed a dramatic change in the city's urban center.
According to President and CEO of Cincinnati Downtown Incorporated, David Ginsburg, downtown Cincinnati is once again becoming a place to be.
"It's very dynamic right now. Our downtown is going through a renaissance with more people living downtown, more people visiting downtown," Ginsburg said. "Nightlife is almost intense downtown and we're seeing a lot of businesses taking advantage of that."
However, while the downtown renaissance has led to a boom in new bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues, retail venues have not fared quite as well.
That’s the case for Jim Elkus, who’s operated Bolero Menswear near the corner of Fourth and Walnut streets downtown for the past decade.
Elkus' customer base is a loyal one and he claims to know many of them by name and face. However, like any business owner, Elkus would like to see more foot traffic walking up and opening the front door.
"You know, traffic is light," Elkus said. "I'm an island here. There's nothing around me."
The "nothing" Elkus is referencing is comprised of a couple banks and the back end of a store across the street. The nearest entertainment venue is Fountain Square which is about a two block walk, and The Banks is a little farther away. There are not many people living close to his store either.
With news about Brooks Brothers closing its downtown location and the well-chronicled struggles of Tower Place Mall, many people question if downtown can thrive as a retail hub.
According to the Director of University of Cincinnati's Economic Center, Dr. Julie Heath, entertainment districts are for visitors and workers.
"Visitors to a region are going to be interested in spending their money on entertainment: on restaurants, dining experiences," said Heath. "They're not going to be as interested in spending their money on retail establishments."
Can the retail sector in downtown Cincinnati thrive? Only time -- and sales -- will tell.
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