This year we added a new expression to our vocabulary: Pandemic Fatigue. It is the anxiety, frustration, and concerns we have with this ongoing health issue. With our focus on COVID-19, we have had little time to think about the successes of 2020. While the pandemic has changed our lives, in some instances permanently, there have been positive outcomes. As a city, our sense of community strengthened and rekindled an appreciation of our families, friends, and neighbors. The overwhelming support of our local businesses, merchants, restaurants, and bars forged our motto “We Are Willoughby.” Over this past year, we have witnessed many great things.
When our Senior Center closed, our Parks and Recreation Department found creative ways to engage our seniors. These activities included car bingo, lunch in the lot, Drive-through ice cream socials and Drive-In Movies were a few events that kept our seniors engaged and active. The merchants and bar owners organized weekend activities to bring customers to our city with well-managed and safe events after the canceling of our four summer events. Restaurant owners enhanced customer seating by adding umbrellas, tables, and chairs along Erie Street. The Willoughby Farmer’s Market continued under strict pandemic guidelines. Our Lakefront District witnessed the expansion of the Willoughby Lakefront Business Association’s Osborne Park Market and Flea with the addition of the Trendy Pop-Up Shop. In all, our local businesses and organizations managed through significant hardship with incredible resiliency.
We have also seen continued economic development activity with a recently approved $3.5 million investment in new housing on Lakeshore Boulevard in our Lakefront District. Prestan Products has purchased property along Lost Nation Road and was awarded an Ohio Enterprise Zone Tax Exemption for the construction of a new headquarters and manufacturing facility. Marous Brothers Construction is nearing completion of their $10 million expansion and renovation of the former Krihwan Pontiac site into their corporate headquarters. Increased retail activity includes the opening of Achilles Running Shop in downtown as well as a unique set of creative studios, Stella’s Art Gallery. The Marc’s store at Euclid Avenue and Rt. 91 is preparing to open, and across the street, we are delighted to welcome a new Swenson’s proposed at the former Denny’s site.
With our Lakefront District, Chagrin River Corridor, and Historic Downtown Willoughby is a highly desirable place to live, and we see increased residential construction. A recently completed market analysis indicates our city will continue to be a preferred location for young professionals and seniors for the same reasons, convenience, walkability, and sense of community.
Finally, as we continue through the holidays, we are creating new traditions to keep the holiday spirit alive. Please check the city website and social channels for activities and schedules, and please support our local businesses, restaurants bars, and merchants. They still need our help.
As our city has repeatedly done over the past nine months, we are finding ways to stay connected, celebrate important events safely, and support each other.
Have a happy and safe holiday season!