Thursday, August 09, 2001

Mall roof removal starts today

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — In recent years, civic leaders became convinced that the roof over City Centre Mall was keeping the lid on economic development downtown.

        When it was built, in the mall-happy 1970s, the enclosed shopping center was envisioned as a magnet that would draw Middletown residents downtown. But that level of shopping traffic never materialized, and merchants drifted away.

   • What: “Raze the Roof.”
   • When: 5-7 p.m. today
    • Where: Main Street near City Centre Mall.
   • Information: 727-4769.
        Middletown officials finally decided to remove the mall roof and reopen Central Avenue through the former City Centre Mall.

        Today, the city holds a “Raze the Roof” celebration to kick off that process. The public is invited for free food, drink and entertainment. Folks can even take home a chunk of the roof as a memento.

        There continues to be some controversy over the roof removal, said Craig Maynard, director of the Small Business Development Center for the Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce. But he feels it's the right choice.

        “In the 1970s the City of Middletown undertook an entrepreneurial risk,“ he said. “It was a cutting edge, high-risk, high-return project. In a financial sense, the project certainly failed. At the turn of the millennium, our city leaders had a clear choice between wallowing in self-pity or picking themselves up and moving ahead.”

        The downtown party is a cooperative venture of the Downtown Middletown Partnership, the chamber of commerce, the Middletown Convention & Visitors' Bureau and the Middletown Historical Society. Ten downtown businesses are providing refreshments.

        The musical group Puzzle of Light will perform. This quartet, which will soon appear at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., also performed at the Dayton Peace Accords, at the Falling Water Frank Lloyd Wright house in Pennsylvania, and for the independent film Dream Catcher.



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