Besides restoring old buildings (the ultimate in recycling) and building new ones, and giving locals a chance at a retail career, we are about making sure the neighborhood retains its character -- thru architecture, thru cleanliness and customer friendly appeal.
We recently spent over $7,000 to assemble, print and distribute 30,000 guides to the boulevard -- where over 150 businesses exist in some 10 blocks. These were distributed to 20 hotels, the visitor's association and the convention center. The response of immediate and positive. People on the boulevard liked it and tourists used it. It was so successful that we are doing an updated version for the holidays
The trend right now in terms of occupancy is towards eateries. my 4 most recent additions have been a Thai place, Mexican, chili dogs and yet another thai place. all in the space of six months. another new fad seems to be children's resale -- both clothes and hard goods like toys and furniture. while 9-11 did cause a downturn (in the form of bankruptcies) things seem to be on the upswing again.
Two enormous projects have recently been completed in town. while one has been controversial due to its modern style, the other looking a bit like an old German village, has met with kinder responses.
I can't tell you the pleasure i feel when I take a dilapidated carpet warehouse and turn it into a new retail space where the folks of our city can come and have a great experience: have a good meal, buy that perfect gift, read the paper and sip a hot beverage -- maybe even a first date-- or a marriage proposal might take place in a space that for the want of some time and effort would still be a dusty, cold, dark cavern with no life.
One of my greatest success stories was when 10 years ago a young couple came to me with no restaurant experience (as owners) and wanted to open a place with good food, but low prices. 10 years later, they have just doubled their square footage and have been a regular feature and a rated eatery in both gourmet magazine and the zagat book.
I can't take credit for that but I can take pleasure in it greatly. in that particular building I went back to the original 1925 blueprints to recreate what the original designer had intended.
The building on 33rd (7) was nominated for a national design award. in one case, I expanded a building by building a "twin" next door. great pains were taken to recreate the style and materials precisely. The dimensions, the brick color and texture -- all exactly as the 75 yr old building was first built.
For one of the rehabs, I personally drove a bull dozer thru the front door and spent days gutting the thing. today it is an open beautiful place to spend time in (and the owner hopes -- some money too).
The Hawthorne District is not only known city and state wide and a destination shopping experience, but throughout the northwest, Callifornia, and was even named as one of the 5 best emerging neighborhoods in the world--that's right, world-- in a national magazine.