Saturday, February 24, 2024

Snazzy Midtown

by Alecia Warren
| December 4, 2010 8:00 PM


<p>Natatqn Allan, 4, has his hair cut Friday by Clean Cut owner Eric Carpenter. Carpenter attributes an increase in business to last summer's revitalization project in midtown.</p>

Friday's cold didn't deter the regulars at Kelly's Irish Pub and Grill from tramping in for beer and sandwiches.

Though dampened by the recent snowfall, pedestrian traffic still brings in local residents eager for Irish fare, said Ronikae Achord, head chef and manager.

She attributes that to the revamping of Fourth Street.

"It definitely has (helped business)," Achord said. "A lot of people tell me they walk here, a lot of people bike here. A lot of the business you can tell is local."

Midtown Coeur d'Alene is transforming.

Since the nearly $3 million revitalization of Fourth Street between Indiana and Foster that finished last year, some area businesses and customers are touting the benefits of the friendly looking street.

Some are less enthused, and think Midtown still has a long way to go.

Achord, who lives across the street from Kelly's, said she thinks that the revamped road and sidewalks will bring in more businesses, making midtown its own entity like downtown Coeur d'Alene.

"I feel like this is the heart of Coeur d'Alene," she said. "With salons and a work-out place and bars and restaurants, people who live in Midtown never have to leave."

Terry Pardue, a Midtown resident sipping beer in Kelly's on Friday afternoon, said the area looks nicer and more appealing.

But it's not enough, the 70-year-old said. There are still so many empty or closed storefronts on the street.

"People need more businesses to wander to," Pardue said. "We've got a nice street, but no buildings."

Eric Carpenter, co-owner of Clean Cut Haircuts for Men on Fourth Street, said he was grateful for the revitalized street.

"I had my doubts, but I can't doubt it anymore," he said as he snipped a customer's hair.

The improved sidewalks and street have brought in many more pedestrians, Carpenter said, and nicer looking crowds, too.

"This summer was the best we ever had in seven years, enough that we hired another person," he said, adding that the business relocated to Midtown two years ago. "It's just more inviting, I guess."

Chief Allan, a resident of the Coeur d'Alene Indian reservation who shops often in Coeur d'Alene, said he stops by Midtown for haircuts and antique shopping.

He thinks the road upgrades are just what Midtown needed.

"I think it adds to what the town of Coeur d'Alene is," Allan said. "A walking city."

But Lisa McLeod, manager at Bo Jack's Pub and Grill just a few shops down, said the revitalization has killed the business.

The widened sidewalks leave no room for parking on the right side of Fourth Street, she said. When plows push snow up on the sidewalk, there's no room to park on the left side, either.

"It does look pretty with the sidewalks and bricks and trees, but it's very inconvenient for customers," she said.

Still, McLeod believes Midtown has potential. It could be a popular shopping district, she said, adding that the thrift stores and antique shops are more affordable than downtown locations.

"A lot of people don't want to go downtown. They don't want to deal with the college crowds, all the tourists," she said. "This is a nice area, with lots of eclectic places."

Jeffrey Gagnon, co-owner and manager at Paris Flea Market across the street, said the same.

"I think Midtown is always going to be a little more retro, a little more funky with the antique shops and thrift stores and tattoo shop," Gagnon said. "Just a little more flavor."

The revitalization project that brought in postmodern bike rack sculptures makes the area more enticing, he added.

"It's more cultural. Just the art on the sidewalk," he said. "I think we're more of a community. This brings all the stores together a little bit."

Hopefully Midtown will start hosting more community events, like its first lighting ceremony on Friday night, said Adam Graves, chair of the new Midtown Committee.

Graves, a Midtown resident, sees the area as evolving into a refuge for locals to enjoy good food and affordable shopping.

All the businesses just have to band together, he said.

"We don't want to be downtown, and we probably never will be downtown. We're not a tourist destination," Graves said. "We want to be our own thing."