Thursday, September 19, 2013

Downtown Upgrades on Focus for Marion, Mount Vernon

Rare Chop House at 224 S. 10th St. in Mount Vernon.
New restaurants and new projects have targeted the downtowns of the King City and the Hub of the Universe this summer.

Developed behind the scenes by an executive of a local industry who saw the need for a top of the line restaurant in town the new Rare Chop House held its grand opening August 29. It's located in a restored three-story downtown building at 224 S. 10th St. in Mount Vernon, one block south of the courthouse on Illinois Rt. 37. The building formerly was home to a True Value franchise.

The website at is just a page with basic information at the moment. More information can be found at the establishment's Facebook page. Jason Piercy is general management and hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

At a book signing last week at the former Grenada Theatre, now the Grenada Center for the Performing Arts, I learned that a new independent book store will be moving in next door. The owners say they are six to nine months away from opening.

The city's use of tax increment financing appears to be paying off. The downtown buildings looked as good as I've ever seen them.

The relatively new Hub TIF District in Marion is also starting to see payoffs for the downtown area.

Purple Peacock and Latta Java at 410-412 N. Market St. in Marion
After Hurst-Roche Engineers rehabbed 200 N. Market St. two years ago with a covered porch, a second building is adding a permanent cover for its customers as well as some outdoor living space on the second floor.

The Purple Peacock has been upgrading its buildings over the last year further up the street. The building hosts both the antique store as well as Latta Java, a local coffee shop.

New restaurants and bars are also looking at downtown.
The Vault Cafe opened earlier this year on the ground floor of the historic five-story Marion State and Savings Bank building at 504 Tower Square Plaza.

Also the old Marion City Hall at 100 Tower Square Plaza is also currently undergoing renovation for what is supposed to be a restaurant. Just down the alley the former Mollie's that sold last year has reopened as Miss Kitty's Cathouse and Lounge. On East Main Street a new Mexican restaurant is under construction across from Washington Grade School.

City officials hope to see the trend continue. They will be holding a meeting with business and building owners in the downtown area in early October to go over details of a new $10,000 low interest loan program for building upgrades and improvements.

No comments: