Business leaders in Old Town Winchester are making moves to make the walking mall the "it" spot in Virginia. The board that represents all the businesses downtown held a retreat on Thursday.
Lot's of brainstorming was going on at the retreat. The City is really utilizing the technique to split into groups. Coming up with ideas. Coming back together and seeing which ones overlap. One overlap was working on the new welcome center that's moving into the Old Winchester Star building on Boscawen Street either this July or August. The second is to make sure people have a guide to Downtown Winchester business.
"I think this could be the best community by far in Northern Virginia," said Owner of Luciole Vintage Shop Melinda Kramer.
Melinda Kramer has owned the entire building at the corner of the mall at the intersection of Cork and South Loudoun for a decade. She's been renting out apartments for years but just two years ago she opened up this vintage store, Luciole.
"I've always had my heart in Winchester, and I've seen other communities when they make the right decisions and you're part of a community and ten years when we come back here and it's all working in an exceptional way that we envision it to that we all have a wee bit of pride when we're here," said Kramer.
The pride for Old Town Winchester came through at the retreat. Old Town Development Board members and others in the community established priorities using the Main Streets Model.
"A very successful model in bringing people back into the heart of their downtown and making it a community center," said Downtown Manager Jennifer Bell.
Bell says they want to recruit existing businesses in Winchester to move to the walking mall.
"If you have a vibrant downtown, a lot of activities going on, a lot of people want to live in your community," said Bell. "You can attract larger employers when there's a better quality of life. So then there's more business for the surrounding community too."
They know they need to brand downtown. Create more events. Focus on public safety. Put up signs to guide people to the mall. Just to name a few. All priorities of both Winchester City Council and the Old Town Development Board.
"With that support I think we're going to go in the direction that is going to rocket us into a very unique community," said Kramer.
Another big focus that the City keeps working on is creating more events and things to do down here. This weekend is the "Sip Kiss and Stroll event. It's a bigger version of the "Big Kiss" event done last year. Another new one coming this March is a restaurant week in Old Town Winchester.
City Manager Dale Iman says it would be a good idea for them to look into creating an app for Old Town Winchester.
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