With 4th Street redesign, ‘so much is in transition’


HUNTINGBURG — As Fourth Street in Huntingburg is undergoing a transformation, some of the businesses along the street are transforming as well.

“We are in a phase of transition,” said Sara Schroeder, executive director of the Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce. “We won’t see, business-wise, what Fourth Street will look like until 2020. Right now, so much is in transition.”

Construction to redesign Fourth Street between Geiger and Jackson streets is underway. Fourth Street between U.S. 231 and Jackson Street is currently closed to vehicular traffic, but not pedestrian traffic. Stores remain open to customers.

The products at New Beginnings By Gehlhausen’s have been consolidated into Gehlhausen’s Flowers and Gifts, 414 E. Fourth St. Previously, New Beginnings was its own store across the street. But business owner Linda Gehlhausen decided to merge the two.

“We’ve consolidated all that product into Gehlhausen’s Flowers and Gifts,” Gehlhausen said. “So we’ve got a really full building here, but it’s not overly full. It’s really nice.”

That allowed business owner Melissa Ilgen to move her store, Serendipity Fibers, from another Fourth Street location into the former New Beginnings site, 415 E. Fourth St. That move was completed in late February. Ilgen could not be reached Wednesday due to illness, but she has said previously that she was interested in offering more products other than yarn and fibers, which she does at the new store.

In April, Bean to Sprout, a baby and children’s boutique and consignment shop that was in Ireland, moved to Serendipity Fiber’s former location, 314 E. Fourth St.

Along with Bean to Sprout, Sweet Emotions has moved onto the street. The company, which sells all-natural skin care products, moved to 404 E. Fourth St. last fall; it also has a store in Newburgh.

“We have so many businesses interested in coming here, but they are waiting for the construction,” Schroeder said. “We do have some empty buildings, but a lot of them are spoken for, and they are waiting until the construction projects are complete.”

But there are businesses that are no more. The Overtime closed suddenly in November. While the reasons behind the closure have not been announced, the business owners had acquired the company from the original business owners in late 2013.

Now the property owners, the Duncan family, are working on renovating the property. And they have had inquiries about renting the space, Schroeder said.

Also gone is the Art Factory. Owner Emily Meyer decided to take an art teacher position with the Southwest Dubois County School Corporation and could not teach and keep the business running full time.

“She had a great business going. We were hopeful that she would be able to sell it and someone would come in,” Schroeder said. “But its such a niche market that finding someone who has that skill, the pool of people is just smaller.”

With construction on Fourth Street, many property owners and businesses are also working on their buildings.

“When you have historical buildings like we have here, they have to be taken care of,” Schroeder said. “And I think everyone saw the Fourth Street project as an opportunity to do some investing into the buildings.”

For instance, the former Fat & Sassy building is being renovated. The building that housed the Overtime is also undergoing work.

And renovations continue for Kim’s Koffee, which is planning to move into the former Cool Beans building at 410 E. Fourth St. In an April 19 post on Facebook, the company shared photos of the ongoing work under the title of “Progress!!!”

Schroeder said it is her hope that more retail stores will move onto the street. “The more retail stores we have, the better everyone does,” she said. “We really want retail. That’s going to help draw tourism. That is what will make the other stores thrive.”

And she hopes that more entrepreneurs step up to make it happen.

“We’ve seen that you can have a successful business here; it can happen,” Schroeder said. “There is good support among the community and among the downtown merchants. They really support each other.”

Anyone interested in business opportunities can contact Schroeder at 812-683-5699, the City of Huntingburg at 812-683-2211 or the owners of available properties.

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