Gay Street is considered by many to be one of the most vibrant streets in Downtown Columbus, and thanks to the formation of a new business association, the area will soon get another visual boost. A series of 41 colorful banners will soon be hung on lightposts located along the street, marking the area as a place for visitors to take notice of.
Mark Ballard, owner of Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties located at 11 E. Gay Street, came up with the idea for the project after noticing the empty banner posts already installed on the street. He said that it seems like a natural solution to solving a disturbingly common perception problem with customers.
“A number of our Downtown customers ask me on a daily basis if there is anything of interest located further down the street,” explained Ballard. “Those questions caused me to envision the banner posts in full utilization creating a sense of unity for the Street. Moreover, I believe that the banners can help drive business to the many merchants on Gay Street.”
Ballard approached Melissa Fast at the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District (SID) as well as Chad McCoury, owner of J. Gumbo’s at 31 E. Gay Street, and President of the Gay Street Collaborative (GSC) to get their thoughts on how the banner program could become one of the keystone initial projects of the Collaborative.
The Gay Street Collaborative was officially formed this summer, but the idea for a business association has been in the works for years according to McCoury.
“This is a group in which we can use our collectiveness to enhance the area, advocate around issues important to us and increase visitors and sales,” he explained. “Prior to formalizing, there were a few issues that we were able to mobilize and band around, such as the proposed parking meter price increases and patio right-of-way issues. Through our effectiveness, we realized our potential and formally structured the Gay Street Collaborative as a non-profit entity.”
So far, over 50 individuals representing over 30 area businesses have joined the effort, which includes restaurants, law offices, hotels, and even Columbus Underground, which is headquartered in an office building at 65 E. Gay Street.
“We simply want to be a collective group of all of the great businesses, merchants, organizations, developers and residents who have a shared desire of having a vibrant Downtown area,” added McCoury.
Weather permitting, the vibrant new banners are expected to be installed sometime before Thanksgiving. 41 banners will span 12 city blocks of Gay Street from Front Street to Cleveland Avenue. The banners are individually colored and will change in spectrum, from orange to red to purple to blue, as visitors progress eastward down Gay Street. The banners were designed by the Neighborhood Design Center, a nonprofit creative urban design group, and are being fabricated by the Columbus Sign Company.
“The banners are our first tangible project that will springboard many things we have planned,” said McCoury. “We will soon be launching a new website and creating walking maps of the area that feature all of our great offerings.”
Additional plans include multiple neighborhood events that will encourage visitors and customers to remain in the area later than 5pm when the workday ends.
“While we’re still in our initial start-up phase and evolving, we’re really excited about what’s going on within the Gay Street District,” said McCoury. “We hear great stories when people reminisce about how Downtown used to be and we hope that through the investment and efforts that’s going on, Gay Street and Downtown will again be as vibrant as it once was.”
More information will be coming soon to www.gay-street.com.