By Tim Lai
Bank Street is finally finding its identity and customers like what they see, according to its business association.
“I think that residents and businesses alike can look forward to a revitalized area, and in three to five years it’s going to be especially pronounced,” says Gerry LePage, executive director of the Bank Street Promenade.
Luc Thivierge owns the fünf funk boutik, a trendy Bank Street clothing store.
He says the growing number of Bank Street art galleries, music stores, hair salons and coffee shops can’t be matched in other Ottawa locales.
“Bank Street is the now street in that it’s the new street that everybody’s been disregarding and all of a sudden there’s new business everywhere,” he says.
In an effort to attract new customers, Bank Street will focus on keeping the streets clean, says LePage.
Phyllis Potts, manager of Allen’s Flowers, says she has recently met new residents who are thrilled with the neigbourhood.
“I just had a lady in here yesterday who just moved into the area from B.C. and thinks Bank Street is fabulous,” says Potts. “She can find everything on Bank Street.”
Signs of revitalization are visible.
Hartman’s, the neighbourhood-run grocery store, is set to expand. Ottawa’s third Bridgehead Coffeehouse recently opened.
LePage says there is less than one per cent of retail space left vacant.
Though civil servants have been the stalwarts of the area with work in close proximity, LePage says the association is working to attract more residents back to the neighbourhood.
“We expect we will continue to see a healthy densification in the central core and as a result… it’ll be good for business,” says LePage.
“If we wanted the main street supported then we’re going to have the residences and those cohort incomes that are going to help us define the street.”
Bank Street is still defining itself, according to LePage, but already knows what it isn’t.
“Bank Street is going to come into its own. We’re not trying to be the Glebe. We’re not trying to be Elgin Street. We know what we are,” says LePage.
“And I think we’re going to stay there for a long period of time.”