By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
GROVE CITY —
The three pillars of a successful community are being displayed in Grove City.
The downtown underwent a revitalization process that began with formation of the non-profit Grove City Revitalization Inc. in 2001 - which eventually led to the upgrade of the streetscape and infrastructure. Under its new name - Grow Grove City - the group now mentors others in continuing revitalization efforts in the Grove City area.
The downtown streetscape improvements were meant to "entice," said Dave Dayton, who is a GGC board member but initially fathered revitalization in town.
As people hopped on board with the vision, "We believed there were essentially three components to make downtown vital: the concrete and the commerce - and only then can we hope to have community," Dayton said. In addition to private donors, GCCR was also "very blessed" to have large supporters from Grove City College, the borough and Grove City Medical Center, he added.
Revitalization has enticed, as originally planned.
"When you look at the number of vacancies downtown, there aren't very many (anymore)," Dayton said. "All the storefronts are almost filled. We're hearing many merchants are coming in large part because of the many good things that are happening in Grove City."
In the block of the Guthrie Theatre - Which is the only theater in Pennsylvania that recently purchased a Sony 4K digital projector with the help of donations from the community and Grove City College - a little arts district is also forming downtown.
"I'm very encouraged about the whole idea of art as part of our destination," Dayton said, starting with murals and the ongoing parking-sign sculptures made by students/residents of George Junior Republic - who are court-adjudicated to the facility - that have not been seen elsewhere in the U.S.
Revitalization has been a place "where people find themselves," he said.
"These young boys (at GJR) may have never had a chance to do something for their community. George Junior has committed resources and the talent of these kids which are amazing."
Grove City Arts Council recently leased space near the Guthrie, which "makes me stand up," Dayton said. "There are not many places the size of Grove City that has a place like that."
Revitalization has generated community; the council wasn't started by businesses, but a community of artists passionate about local art. "It's exciting," Dayton said.
Grove City has made one business in town want to change its image.
The former Blue Ribbon Tavern operated successfully downtown since 2008, but did a month-long renovation and reopened last month as Broad Street Grille.
"Grove City is a good, old fashioned respectable town," said manager Joshua Seelbaugh. Owner Rich Baker, who bought the business from Blue Ribbon partner Jim Nicholson, "Could have transferred (the business) but he wanted to stay here."
The bar took down its "tacky" beer signs, shortened its enormous bar and made the dining experience more "family friendly," he said. "We're focusing more on the food aspect than a bar. People didn't want to bring their families into a bar."
It's working. The grille has more than tripled its staff and business is booming during a normally slow time of the year for restaurants, Seelbaugh added. "It's been spectacular."
The past year has seen a boom of many new businesses in the Grove City area - and renovations of many established ones. The Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce alone has seen a number of new members - and existing members have continued to reinvent themselves, including:
■ All Good Things, which opened a new thrift shop at 1103 W Main St., and joined the Chamber this month. It sells gently used and new items that benefit local charities such as AWARE and the Mercer County Humane Society. Info: 724-372-1795.
■ Grove City Arts Council opened this month at 222 S. Broad St., offering a new art gallery that will also hold classes and lease space to artists. Artists may call 724-301-0483.
■ Black Consultants, LLC opened in January to help small businesses and non-profits find success through improvements to operations, logistics, marketing, outreach and budgets. Its mailing address is P.O. Box 295; proprietor Jeff Black: 724-822-5375.
■ Broad Street Grille re-opened at 131 S. Broad St. and joined the Chamber this month after an extensive renovation. Visit www.broadstgrille.com
■ Broad Street Yoga revamped a storefront for a studio at 225 S. Broad St., and joined the Chamber in November. It offers yoga for all levels. Visit www.broadstyoga.com
■ Podiatrist Dawn Y Stein joined the Chamber in November after opening her practice at 15 Woodland Center Drive, Grove City, last year. She can be reached at 724-458-6245.
■ Clarencedale Cake joined the Chamber in November, providing specialty cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies and other sweet treats. One of its three locations is at 106 S. Broad St., Grove City.
■ Aey Plus Flooring opened a new site at 1308 W. Main St., in October. Aey sells and installs flooring, including laminate, hardwood and carpet. Call 724-264-4848.
■ In October, Wendell August Forge opened its newly built, home base in Springfield Township along Route 208 after its historic Grove City location was destroyed in a fire three years ago. After having operations, offices and gift shops in various locations, it now exists under one roof with its large showroom and history center for visitors to tour. The company also has a gift store at nearby Premium Outlets.
■ Valvoline Express Care of Grove City underwent extensive renovations at 149 N. Broad St., and opened in May under new ownership. It offers oil, transmission, differential, cooling, and power steering services - as well as improved car wash bays. It joined the Chamber in September.
■ Kritter Kreations LLC, 154 S. Broad St., Grove City, joined the Chamber in August. It offers the opportunity to choose a stuffed animal to stuff and dress, as well as birthday party and party- room options. Info: 724-264-4788.
■ The North Face joined the Chamber after opening a store at Grove City Premium Outlets in Springfield Township in August. It specializes in outdoor, performance, and action sport products, including clothing and outwear.
■ RMC/Morris Muzzleloading, along West Main Street is a family-owned business new to Grove City in January of 2013. It sells muzzleloading supplies during limited store hours; call 724-264-4171 for information.
■ Stephanie McCloskey joined the Chamber in April; her Grove City, home-based business offers graphic design and branding services. Info: 724-825-3793.
■ Catedralography, named after Alex Catedral, is a home-based photography, videography and music production business that joined the chamber in April. Info: 602-614-9916.
■ Grove City Detail Co. joined the Chamber in March after buying and renovating 101 N. Broad St. It offers paint sealant, minor paint corrections, steam cleaning, stain removal, pet hair removal, fabric protection, express detail services, maintenance plans. Call 724-458-4077.
Other businesses have emerged downtown that don't belong to the Chamber, such as Gel Nails & Spa at 230 S. Broad St.; Music Depot at 157 S. Broad St.; Precision Cuts at 216½ S. Broad St.; Robert Middendorf's Hot Dog Shop and Much More at 241 S. Broad St.
Peachy's Therapeutic Massage, 1314½ W. Main St., Grove City, behind Jean Subs, will soon be opening. Aesthique Brigett moved from South Broad to 1743 S. Center St. Ext., Grove City.
Olde Town Grove City opened its office suite last year at 118 S. Center St. The non-profit organization hosts its own Olde Town services there, and has office space leased to Reaching Up & Reaching Out, a ministry primarily for women coming out of jail; Sew Amazing Sewing School; and Grove City Education Center for Adults, which offers GED and literacy classes.
After a devastating fire in December of 2012, Gear Raceware rebuilt one of its buildings at 110 3rd St., Grove City, last year. "We have been very fortunate to have existing businesses further invest in their business ... Renovations and rebuilds show a commitment to this community that we both appreciate and applaud," said Beth Black, executive director of Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce.
"It is a leap of faith for a new business to start, relocate, or expand during these tough economic times. We appreciate their tenacity and will support them as a community."
Published Feb. 19, 2014, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.