Downtown development in Beaumont lacking

With restaurants leaving, hotels shutting down and shops being few and far between, downtown development seems to be at a standstill in Beaumont despite efforts by the city and private organizations to revitalize the area.

Don Stills has been running his business, Don Stills Hobby Haven on Orleans St., for 64 years. Of all the change he's seen happen around his shop, Stills said he was most impressed with the revival of downtown's streets but there still seems to be more focus on other parts of town.

"It may be a chore to get people to come downtown," Stills said, "but it's not downtown anymore, it's one end of town and all the growth is to the west."

The non-profit spearheading the recent revitalization is Beaumont Main Street. The group's Executive Director, Carolyn Howard, said plans are in place to purchase the vacant, unused buildings and restore them to their historic potential. However, the group can't move forward until the owners of those properties decide to sell.

New downtown business owners like Scott Fisher, who plans to open a new restaurant concept at Edison Plaza in summer 2014, said it's not a lack of effort, it's more about the people behind the shop doors.

"I think we just need folks jumping behind businesses that care as much as they do and want to jump in passionately and make things change," Fisher said.

Fisher also said he encourages anyone unsure about downtown Beaumont's potential, to give it another look.

"Hop in Edison plaza, go to any floor above ten and look at the view of Beaumont," he said. "It will transform your view of downtown and of Beaumont."


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