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Loveland celebrates resurrection of downtown businesses

Posted at 11:37 PM, Sep 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-15 19:27:05-04

LOVELAND, Ohio -- The streets of downtown Loveland were packed Friday night -- a welcome sight for those who in May 2017 watched an electrical fire consume long-standing fixtures and up-and-coming businesses alike. 

The resulting year-plus of repairs at the intersection of West Loveland and Railroad avenues cost some business owners millions and left other members of the community worried their area would never recover.

"We've all watched the construction fences," Mayor Kathy Bailey said. "We've been feeling the sweat and the pain of this, also, and we want to be a part of the celebration, too."

The Loveland Strong Street Fest, scheduled to run until Sunday, will commemorate the historic district's revitalization with fireworks, live music, a ceremony honoring the work of first responders and a triathlon paying tribute to that most beneficent of all cryptids, the Loveland Frogman. 

"The year and three months it's taken to get to this point has been arduous," said Tano Williams, whose restaurant -- also called Tano -- was the epicenter of the fire. "I'm excited just to be standing here, ready to go."

Williams spent millions renovating his bistro, at times wondering whether it might be easier to walk away than to turn the space back into something usable. Ultimately, he decided he was too attached to Loveland to try setting up shop anywhere else.

John Zielke, whose nearby restaurant hadn't yet opened when it burned down, also considered leaving. Then, he realized the unifying impact of the reconstruction effort on the surrounding city.

"Just to build it all back up to where it was before the fire is kind of what keeps driving us," he said.