Hello Hornell,

This morning’s walking tour focused on two plazas and I also threw in the entirety of Park Drive.  I think that it is interesting to note that the two plazas and Park Drive combined make up for approximately 18% of the total BID.

Starting at the north end of the Hornell Plaza on Route 36, Maple City Discount Liquor & Wines starts off the row of businesses.  Following suite is The Cutting Crew, Rent-A-Center and Kay Jewelers.  Wegmans is next in line, being of the bigger businesses to fall within our BID.  After Wegmans is Maurice’s, GNC, Pizza Hut Express, Zoom Tan, The Shoe Department, GameStop, PAK Nails, Olympia Sports, The Dollar Tree, and Verizon.  Another large BID business, Walmart rounds out that portion of the plaza.  On the opposite side of the parking lot, Dunkin Donuts and Applebee’s are stand alone buildings.  McDonald’s starts a group of businesses on the south end of the plaza.  Behind McDonald’s there is Wilkin’s Laser Car Wash, Auto Zone, Subway, Hornell Hookah & Smoke Shop, and the Armed Forces Career Center.

After walking by all of these buildings, I returned to my jeep and drove down to the Hornell Railroad Plaza off of Park Drive.  In this plaza we have Rite Aid starting us off, followed by Family Dollar, Aaron’s, Save-A-Lot, and Tractor Supply.  From here, I parked and walked up Park Drive.  Weyand’s Chiropractic starts us off as the first business outside of the plaza.  Following Weyand’s is Finger Lakes Granite, Advantage Cleaning Services, IDMA, K & A Hair Studio, Park Drive Power Equipment, Park Drive Car Wash, Robert Sweeny Agency, and County Cabs.  Next in line is Railhead Brewing, followed by Lewis Garage Doors, and ending with Triple C’s Tasty Freeze as the last business within the boundaries of the BID on Park Drive.

As you might expect, the plazas are filled with businesses and there were not many (maybe one) open storefronts on this stretch of the tour.  Plazas are convenient and are usually centered around a shopping experience–such as Wegman’s, Walmart, or Save-A-Lot.  It’s essential to have large business like this because there is always a trickle down effect to small businesses within the vicinity of larger businesses.  Embracing a symbiotic relationship between large and small business is really critical for economic stability and longevity of small businesses.

However, the proximity of these plazas to downtown can pose a problem.  They are a bit out of the way of the downtown scene.  And when thinking in terms of a business improvement district, directing people out of your downtown is counterproductive.  So, changing the flow of traffic so that the needs of the plazas are met and the needs of the downtown are met is going to be critical over the next few years.  I personally think that visibility and signage is going to make a profound impact.

In a perfect world you’d want your customer to make a trip to the supermarket and, on the way to or from, experience the mom and pop shops of downtown.  I think that by having some signage such as “Entering Hornell’s Business District” or something of the like would have huge benefits–and is something that we have discussed at great lengths.  And then we could establish that symbiotic relationship I mentioned previously.

So, re-capping the last three days I have learned three major lessons:

  1. The BID is large and difficult to navigate, but truly offers a unique set of businesses along with essential needs of customers
  2. There is great potential to grow, and there are many available storefronts for businesses to move into.  The difficulty is going to be enforcement on current landlords to keep up their buildings and push to fill them
  3. Aside from the businesses within the plazas, there is very little symbiotic relationship between small and large business.  However, pointing people in the right direction (through placemaking & signage) could be hugely beneficial.  Flow of traffic is key.

Tomorrow I’m going to take a gander at the rest of the businesses in the southern part of the BID and along the railroad.  Join me and let’s see what insights I will gain from tomorrow’s tours.

-Justin

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