2017: A Year in Review.

January is upon us. The month of January is conventionally thought to be named after Janus, the Roman god who was depicted as having two faces– one to look forward, and one to look backwards.

As 2017 comes to a close, we look forward to the upcoming year– but we’d like to take a moment to look back, to reflect on all that has happened, changed, and grown in our downtown in 2017.

1. New businesses that opened downtown:

2. Facade work downtown:  107 N. Second Ave (next to Center Building), 106 N. Second Ave (Blue Phoenix Books), Alpena Furniture & Flooring, and 121 N. Second Ave (Forty-Five North Art Gallery). Work included removing fake facades, restoring masonry, and un-boarding windows.

3. Businesses that closed their doors: Country Cousins, Dry Dock, and Cathy’s Hallmark all closed their doors for good this past year. Read the history of & a tribute to Country Cousins here.

4. The DDA hired and transitioned to a new executive director. 

5. Changes to Pocket Park & Culligan Plaza: Culligan Plaza received some new planters this summer. Work begun on the Pocket Park, which included moving signage, tearing up grass, and relaying the sidewalk. Further updates are put on a hold until plans to repair the mural are done.

6. Street changes.. and 2nd Ave remains one-way.  Two way traffic on Carter Street? Back-in parking on River Street? Yes, you may have noticed some street changes. Changes were done in anticipation for two-way traffic on Second Ave, a decision which City Council revoked this September.

7. Downtown businesses had some changes, too, including:

  • Soaps and Such moved from Second Avenue to its current location on Chisholm.
  • Family Enterprise did some major remodels.
  •  Black Sheep Pub hung a new mural.
  •  Downtown Scoops has new owners– and is staying open through the end of the year.
  • Our movie theaters, previously owned by Carmike, were bought by AMC.

8. Art Walk events had their first summer. Hosted by the art galleries and studios of downtown, Art Walks took place the final Friday of each month during the summer. Studios and galleries had extended hours, live music, demonstrations, food and more. Art Walks will take place the final Friday of each month May- August in 2018.

Temporary scrims that were hung at the Centennial Building for the Art Walk events.

9. The fourth-annual Chowder & Chili Cook-off had its largest turnout yet,  with over 15 competitors and 370 tasters. And it was successfully zero waste, thanks to help of Plastics FLOAT 4H Club. Waste was either sent to compost or recycling, and muffin tins and spoons were washed and will be reused next year.

10. The DDA launched their Plays in the Park Program. Together with Thunder Bay Theatre, the DDA will host free, outdoor theater performances throughout the downtown. While this fall’s inaugural play was held indoors, the program will launch outdoors in 2018.

11. Downtown saw some other new awesome events and festivals, such as

And other annual events, such as Thunder Bay Winery’s Harvest Festival, Thunder Bay International Film Festival, Alpena Book Festival, Battle of the Paddles, Oktoberfest, Brown Trout Festival, and more.

12. Monumental anniversaries: Thunder Bay Theatre and Alpena Public Library both celebrated 50-year anniversaries, and Thunder Bay Arts Council celebrated their 45th.

Here’s to a successful 2017– and to all that 2018 will bring.

Blog Downtown Alpena is written by Anne Gentry. Any downtown news that I missed? Drop me a line below or on Facebook.

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