Downtown living promotes revitalization

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINTON, W.Va. — New stores and restaurants certainly help with the revitalization of downtown areas, but so do new residents.

As cities across the country work to improve their city centers, the growth in the number of people living downtown is one of the barometers of success. Moreover, the young people who are often attracted to urban living become an attractive asset in themselves.

“The cities that capture the mobile, college-educated ‘young and restless’ are the ones who are most likely to revitalize their downtowns and accelerate economic progress in their cities,” Lee Fisher, president of CEOs for Cities, recently told Forbes Magazine. His non-profit helps cities map out plans for growth, and the group has found that many young college-educated professionals are seeking out the urban lifestyle that allows them to live close to work, shopping and entertainment.

So for Huntington, the growing number of downtown living options are good news. Last week, the owners of the Galleria on 4th Avenue unveiled their renovation of the historic building and 26 one-bedroom condos. Dennis Johnson of Universal Holdings bought the building in 2009 and spent $2.5 million on the makeover, which makes the best of the unique architecture while still providing modern interiors and amenities. Also, the Mulberry Street Meatball Co. and Deli will soon open in the building’s first-floor commercial space.

About half of the units are already leased, and several of their first tenants definitely meet that young-professional profile and interest.

“This building is in the heart of Huntington,” said Nick Chaffin, a 29-year-old medical resident. “All the good restaurants are within walking distance. You got Pullman Square one block away. Downtown is accessible for everything.”

Over the past year, several other projects also have gotten under way…

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