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Near south side neighborhood association fighting to bring businesses back

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A neighborhood association has several plans to try to get businesses back into their community.

The Garfield Neighbors Neighborhood Association has been working on a number of projects in order to revitalize the business corridor near Shelby and Raymond Streets.

“When I was growing up here, there were 33 locally owned businesses around this intersection. There was the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker -literally – and they don’t necessarily have to be locally owned,” said Jim Simmons.

“But again, we’d like businesses that our neighbors are going to find viable and attractive to walk to and visit.”

Simmons is the president of the Garfield Neighborhood Association. He would like to see the area transformed.

“We have a lack of amenities here. We are developing a walkable neighborhood,” Simmons said.

There are businesses like White Castle, CVS Pharmacy, Family Dollar and Little Caesars near the intersection, but there are plenty of abandoned stores too.

“It really, I think, (is) a shame to see some of these empty businesses,” Tom Beck said.

Beck is the chairman of the development committee for the Garfield Neighborhood Association.

“I think the improvements in downtown and Fountain Square and some of the neighborhoods that are close by here- we’re just kind of seeing some of that momentum kind of working its way this way and we want to take advantage of that,” Beck said.

The neighborhood association started working on projects to revamp the area. One of the first steps in that direction was adding a painted mural that reads, “Welcome to Garfield Park.”

“The intent here is to just clean this up to make it look more hospitable,” Simmons said.

He said some of the buildings need work.

“As you can see this is old, rusted, rotted (and) that window there is boarded up,” Simmons said.

The president of Suding Hardware has plans to revitalize the exterior of his store at the corner of Shelby and Raymond strets. The store has been in the community since 1932.

“It needed an update and the neighborhood (is) changing a lot. So, it fit in more with the neighborhood,” Ray Bauman said.

Bauman’s store received a facade grant that’ll pay for items like new windows, signs and doors. The store received the grant with the help of the neighborhood association. Simmons said he hopes that will encourage other businesses to revamp too.

“If these business owners see activity on our part, support on our part, including things like redoing this facade, perhaps they’ll think, ‘Maybe these guys are for real and they can help me,'” Simmons said.

Simmons said the owners of the buildings with abandoned stores have been issued a letter. Simmons said the letter was a proactive effort to begin conversations with everyone. He would like everyone to work together to attract businesses like restaurants to the community. He said the neighborhood association is working with several agencies.