This has been an exciting and busy summer. The gazebo concerts and our four summer events, the Rib Burn-Off, Classic Car Cruise-In, ArtsFest and Last Stop Willoughby, were huge successes. In addition, Willoughby hosted a boat parade and display for the Offshore Powerboat races. The event organizers informed me that our parade was the third most successful event they sponsored this year after Key West and Sarasota, Florida. Every year, our events continue to improve and we will increase our efforts to make our Downtown a fun, family-friendly environment. Also, in anticipation of the ArtsFest, we introduced the Willoughby Arts Collaborative. This group of local artists, arts administrators, and arts supporters are offering their talents and experience to reinvent our downtown as an Arts, Entertainment and Cultural District. You may have noticed the painted crosswalks, custom-designed bike racks and “Art Happens. Willoughby” window clings throughout our downtown. This is the beginning of our messaging to identify Willoughby as an arts-friendly community. Similar efforts are in the planning stages.
In addition, we are also placing an emphasis on growing our merchant base as well as helping our merchants flourish. Our Economic Development team is in daily communication with our downtown shop owners and assisting them with event planning and marketing. Our goal is to increase retail customer activity during the weekdays and weekends. In doing this we believe we will provide additional patrons for our restaurants and bars. We are also working to fill vacant tenant spaces with fresh retail merchants.
We are pleased to announce that several new housing projects are planned in and near Downtown Willoughby. The much-anticipated Courthouse Square project, located adjacent to our Municipal Court, is starting construction, and four townhomes are planned near City Hall. Seven new townhomes and six ranch-style duplexes will also start construction in spring at the former Willoughby Tech Center (Indian Museum) site. This housing will be fresh, unique and aimed at attracting young couples and seniors to live within walking distance of our downtown.
Finally, you may have noticed additional planters and banners along Lakeshore Boulevard in our Lakeshore Gateway District. In collaboration with local landowners and merchants, we are aggressively working to create a second activity hub in our City. With the recent improvements at Osborne Park, including a walking trail, pavilion, and parking near our lakefront, and the addition of the Sunday market, we have increased amenities for our residents along the Lost Nation/Lakeshore Boulevard corridor. We are also in the process of developing an event schedule for our “north coast” to boost activity in this area.
With summer ending, the excitement of a new school year and a busy fall is here. Keep up to date on city events on the City of Willoughby Facebook page. Have a great Labor Day!