Ardmore strives to attract shoppers, revitalize downtown
By biconews On 21 Mar, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Matt Sharp

Ardmore organizations designated Saturday, March 18, as a St. Patrick’s Day “Customer Appreciation Weekend,” part of an ongoing effort to revitalize downtown Ardmore.

The weekend was planned by Ardmore 2000 and the Ardmore Business Association (ABA), organizations formed to support and maintain the Ardmore business district. Colette Celis, Executive Director of Ardmore 2000, said that Ardmore’s downtown area, along Lancaster Avenue and side streets, has been in decline since the 1970s, when it began losing business to shopping malls and Suburban Square. Around the same time, she said, the area lost public parking when Lancaster Avenue was widened to four lanes.

Since then, the two organizations have attempted to revitalize the area. The ABA is an organization that represents merchants and organizes sales and promotions. Ardmore 2000 makes physical improvements to the downtown and also strives for economic development.

The event was publicized as a shopper-oriented weekend, and local businesses were encouraged to offer discounts. Providing entertainment were a roving bagpiper and Haverford College’s Oxford Blues and Juggling Club. Celis said Friday evening on St. Patrick’s Day was known to draw crowds to the Irish pubs on Cricket Avenue, and she had hoped to take advantage of this and bring people to the business district on Saturday.

The business district was not inundated by shoppers, but Celis emphasized that revitalization a years-long process, and said, “you have to start somewhere.” She did speak to people who told her the event brought them there, and said, “I think the people that noticed it were appreciative.” Once an event like this gets started, she said, people will begin to expect it in later years, and will be attracted to the area in the future.

Ardmore 2000 is planning several upcoming events. On April 30, there will be a parade through Ardmore to kick off a month-long celebration for Lower Merion Township’s centennial. In preparation, cleanup days are planned for April 8 and 29. Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the cleanup could contact Ms. Celis at 645-0540.

An Easter egg hunt will take place on the Saturday before Easter, said Celis. Children will hunt for eggs in various storefronts and then gather again for prizes. In addition, Ardmore’s traditional sidewalk sale will be held in June. “We’re trying to perk it up a bit” this year, said Celis; a food festival is planned in conjunction with the sidewalk sale.

Celis said Ardmore 2000 was founded about 10 years ago as a Main Street Program, one of many such programs nationwide that are funded jointly by the states and the local business districts. It became Ardmore 2000 after the Main Street Program’s five-year duration expired. Ardmore 2000 is not dependent on time-limited state funding, as it has the power to collect taxes from local businesses.

A central goal of the Main Street Program, and subsequently of Ardmore 2000, is to make sure the area’s historic buildings remain intact. The Ardmore business district contains a number of historic structures, but Celis said that in the 1960s and 1970s, businesses tended to replace

or remodel the facades in an attempt at modernization to keep up with the new shopping malls. She said much of the organizations revitalization work is an attempt to “keep the historical integrity” of the area.

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