LAFAYETTE – Greg Anspach and his family have been around town for as long as anyone else – his parents started Anspach jewelry in 1955 in Old Lafayette. In 1967, they purchased the building in which their business is located at 101 S. Highway.
Over the years since taking over his parents’ business, Anspach has seen the growth and development of the downtown area, and over the past two years, it has transformed into a vibrant area that has seen a flurry of growth, new business and developments while still being plenty. from its original printer.
“In just the past two or three years, the viability of this area has increased so dramatically that I can’t even put a percentage on it,” Anspach said.
Brigid Keating, Lafayette’s director of economic development, said the downtown area has recovered well from the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic, with business growing and thriving.
“The area as a whole has done incredibly well,” Keating said. “We keep growing and we see a lot of businesses really booming… One of the great parts of the old town is that you can start your business here, and you can be in a shared space or in a food truck and then expand into something bigger. It makes my job so much fun that I see people doing well and having a successful small business in the area.”
Some signs of the area’s overall health are the constant heavy traffic and restaurants are full even on weeknights, said Vicki Trumbo, executive director of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.
“The short answer is that downtown is doing just fine,” Trumbo said. “The restaurants are full, there is consistency up and down the street, and there is ambiance and communication.”
Anspach, who took over the jewelry business from his parents in 1983, said the retail and dining options in downtown Lafayette were nowhere near what they are now.
“It’s great to see so many people cuddling with Lafayette,” Anspach said. “All the people who come downtown, the great food, the interesting shops – it really comes down to the people who have a vision coming into town and wanting to put their business here. That’s what it takes, and then it kind of starts to multiply.”
As the region continues to grow, so does Anspach’s jewelry. The shop is expanding to occupy all the space in its building. It completely tears up the interior to place a larger and expanded showroom and a more efficient workshop. Anspach said the company plans to hire more employees as part of the growth. Construction on the project is set to begin in December and be completed in time for Valentine’s Day.
“It’s been something we’ve been wanting to do for five to six years now,” Anspach said. “We are very excited. It will definitely be a showcase for Downtown. We are very excited to do the upgrade and further enhance what Downtown has become.”
Another long-time Lafayette Flea is also in town, at 130 E. Spaulding St. , a new era. The flea market founders retired after 32 years, and new owner John Smidt bought it in July. Smedt said other potential buyers wanted to close the business, demolish the building, and redevelop the site — something he doesn’t intend to do.
“Most of the other people looking to buy the building would have closed the flea market and done something else with the building,” Smedt said. “The sellers were all so excited that we decided to keep it, and they take great pride in it.”
Keating said it was a relief to city employees, nearby businesses, and local residents that the building was not purchased by someone looking to redevelop it, but rather by someone who wanted to invest in the company and help it grow.
“A lot of us were nervous about this building,” Keating said. “It’s exciting to see someone who saw the value of that space. We were worried about someone wanting to get rid of it.”
Smedt said he’s already done a lot of restoration work at the flea market, such as exterior landscaping improvements and interior cleaning to create a more open layout, and the results are really promising. Smedt said August was the best-selling month in business history.
Smidt has also rebranded his business to The Lafayette Flea and is ramping up the company’s social media presence to help continue to attract the high numbers it achieved in August. He also contacts local muralists to repaint the sides of the building.
“We want to try and create a small community here,” Smedt said. “I wasn’t familiar with Downtown Lafayette at all. Everyone seems to know everyone. It’s very tight. It was the most fun project I’ve done so far.”
Creating a small community is also what developer Graham Bailhache is trying to do with the new food court he’s building on the southeast corner of the highway and Baseline Road. This location in the North Terminal of the Highway was formerly a Sinclair gas station. Bailhache, who also owns general contractor BV Builders and Restaurant Community at 206 S. Public Road, said he decided to redevelop the gas station because the more aesthetically pleasing and walkable building would be the best use of the site.
The 16,000-square-foot food court will consist of four local food companies offering counter services, an ice cream stand and a bar. Upstairs there will be a second bar with board games and video games for both children and adults. There will also be a covered patio and outdoor space for activities.
“We wanted something where families could go eat and drink, and kids could run more than they could in a restaurant,” Bilhachi said. “There are a lot of people who have children and want to go out to these places without feeling bad about it.”
Keating said the food hall would help the city take advantage of the growing trend as well as serve as a better entry point into the Old Town.
“It would be a great gateway to the area,” Keating said. “Dining halls are all over the country now. It provides a lot of space for small businesses and customers to be able to get a mix of offers.”
Downtown’s success isn’t limited to the highway corridor. East Simpson Street was the heart of Lafayette’s original business district, but had become relatively sleepy by the time Leslie Wing-Pomeroy opened East Simpson Coffee Co 2014.
Wing-Pomeroy and her husband moved to Lafayette from Boulder after their children had grown up. I worked at Starbucks for years. When the couple bought a home on East Simpson Street, Wing-Pomeroy saw an opportunity to open a coffee shop and create a space that could bring some vitality to this part of the community.
The store opened at 414 E. Simpson St. With the aim of being a slow-motion cafe where people can spend a lot of time, unlike stores like Starbucks which have a revolving door for customers.
“We have created a community where you can come and relax,” Wing-Pomeroy said.
Last year, East Simpson Coffee moved a few blocks closer to Public Road, to 201 E. Public Road. Wing-Pomeroy said that helped the company strike a balance between proximity to the main road and being within its own little pocket downtown.
“It helped a lot,” said Wing Pomeroy. “It’s still off the beaten path, but it’s close enough that people can find us more easily. We just hit the ground and ran. I think the biggest difference is that we show more. What we made for ourselves and our community, people really love.”
The store built a courtyard with the city’s help and created an event space that held regular community gatherings and was the centerpiece of the town’s farmers market.
“This whole area is full of life,” Keating said. “They do community hangouts. There is an art gallery with its own incubator in the back. We are starting to see some of the smaller retailers move in.”
Another space on the south end of the highway is also coming to life—the 44,286-square-foot building at 1380 S. The highway will finally have a tenant after years of vacancy.
“This building has been empty for about five years,” Trumbo said. “It’s a pretty big deal. I think that would have a huge impact.”
The space is filled by Bounce Empire, an indoor inflatable theme park that will include a restaurant, bar, and movie theater.
“This will provide a facility for comfort and recreation in the middle of the city,” Keating said. “It’s just connecting the puzzle pieces and filling in those gaps.”
As the downtown area continues to grow and change, business owners and city employees recognize the need to keep the original character of the old city in place as much as possible.
“The evolution has definitely taken place,” Bilheshi said. “When I first moved here, there wasn’t a lot of activity in the old town. Now you really see some fun and exciting businesses coming in and turning into a much more destination. It’s become a lot more commercial and fun but at the same time really keeping the original character that was Enjoy it “.
“One of the really special things about the Old Town is that there is a strong sense of community within the local businesses,” said Keating. “The situation is, if the neighboring business is doing well, I’m in good shape.” This partnership is private, and great to see inside the Old Town. We understand how special the ancient city is. What’s happening here is very creative and we want to support that.”