Tionesta’s long-vacant downtown will be given a jump-start this spring with the creation of the Tionesta Market Village. The Forest County IDA and IDC have partnered up and completed plans to establish this addition to the main street on the southern of the two IDA-owned lots, now known as the “Gazebo Lot”. This site will become the home of several custom-built small scale retail buildings designed to look like 1800s store fronts, fronted by a wide walkway for shoppers and offering a variety of small retail establishments.
While the IDA owns the property, the IDC is funding this project and is now searching for new start-ups or small home-based businesses looking to move into a small retail space. This is an attempt to fill two needs: providing small, high-visibility retail space to small businesses and making use of the vacant property until a permanent development is established.
“Over the past couple of years there have been several individuals that have expressed an interest in starting a small business in downtown Tionesta.” says Dick Johnson, owner of Forest Hardware in Tionesta and Vice President of the Forest County IDC. “Two of the biggest drawbacks are the lack of available space and the cost of building new.” He hopes that the Market Village will give those people an “economically feasible way to get their new ventures up and running.”
IDC president, Farley Wright, says “The project is a unique, low-risk, high potential reward grass roots effort to increase the attraction and traffic to the community. It’s an opportunity, without relying on governmental funding, to assist local folks as well as benefit our community.” In answer to why this type of use for the property, he adds “Sometimes you can’t wait for others to provide the solutions; and while there may be detractors (nay-sayers) to the project, I know of no one that has presented a better idea. We can support the effort and contribute to its success, or we can deride it and it may fail…….but at least we are doing something.”