Downtown Niles businesses split on making outdoor dining space permanent
NILES, Mich. --- The space known as the NODE was created last year with the hopes of bringing business back to the downtown Niles area due to the pandemic and now it might be sticking around for good thanks to a new grant.
“9 out of 10 days there’s nothing going on there when we’re in business and it seems that they’re catering to the restaurants and things like that after we’re closed. We close at 5 o’clock every day so it’s a tough one for us to swallow," said William Lakeman, Owner of Four Flags Antique Mall.
Lakeman bought the business last year, just before the Downtown Development Authority created the NODE - a temporary COVID-19 outdoor recovery space.
“When we started we did it on kind of a wing and a prayer with what we had just to see if we could make a space their customers could access when they were no longer allowed to go to the indoor dining and then we found people liked it," said Lisa Croteau, Director of Marketing and Administration for the Niles Downtown Development Authority.
The space, which features seating areas surrounding a large fire pit on Second Street, was only supposed to last a year.
Owner of the brass eye Bryan Williams, wants to see it stick around, in the center of downtown.
“There are some suggestions where people want to put it off on a side street or in a parking lot where nobody can see from Main St. And those, I’m not really a big fan of cause if it has to pay for itself, like any business location, location, location is the number one," said Williams.
The city is still surveying community members before making a decision and not everyone is sold.
“Our target customer is older. If they don’t see a parking spot right out front here they’re gonna move on. We have limited parking to begin with and to do this I just don’t think it was very well thought out," said Lakeman.
The DDA will be hosting a report to council on their survey results on November 22nd.
You can fill out the survey yourself here.