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Downtown revival provides spark for more investment

Dec. 12, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Momentum is a wonderful thing when an object is moving in the right direction. And right now, Huntington's downtown continues to have a positive course.

The latest evidence of that is a project by developer Shane Radcliff, who is renovating the old Renaissance Bookstore building at 831 4th Ave. into a combination of retail and office space and loft-style apartments. Another component of the project is Radcliff's decision to purchase and demolish the municipal annex building in the 800 block of 5th Avenue. That site initially will be used for parking for the Renaissance building, and perhaps later Radcliff will build office space on it.

Both aspects of his project are beneficial to the downtown. The Renaissance building, originally known as the Morrison Building, has been a fixture in the downtown for more than 90 years and will be returned to productive use. And the annex building, which has become an eyesore in the block behind it, will be removed and the property once again will start generating taxes.

What prompted Radcliff's investment is what he has seen happening in the downtown. He attributed his interest in tackling a residential project to the restaurant and retail openings that have occurred in the wake of Pullman Square's opening in late 2004. "If you come downtown on a weekend night, there's more people on the streets than I can ever remember," said Radcliff, who has spearheaded commercial renovation projects in the downtown.

So far, Radcliff has pre-sold four of the 11 loft-style apartments he plans to develop, and he has one tenant -- the Pet Palace will move from nearby on 4th Avenue -- for the commercial space.

The combination of more residents and more renovated retail and office space should help build even more momentum for the city's central business district.

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