By Robert Blankenship

The Leeds Commercial Development Authority has its sights set on a downtown restaurant and they have found a way to help someone with the costs of getting that type of business started.

According to CDA Chairman Bill Richardson, a standing offer is now on the table for a potential restaurateur to get several years of free rent if they are willing to locate into a specific property downtown. The owner of the property, who remained unidentified, makes the package possible.

“For three years, they would have this property rent free,” Richardson said. “They would have to bring in what they need to turn it into a restaurant and to pay the utilities.”

The 7,500-square-foot building is located on Parkway Drive.

Richardson said a restaurant in downtown would help bring more people into the historic district and help the already-existing businesses there.

“I believe a downtown restaurant is a real key to the success of our downtown and would lead more people to the area,” he said. “We would love to know of any candidates so we can go and talk to them.”

Some of the other members of the CDA asked to have the proposal written up so that they could have details readily available in case they come across possible candidates.

Other items discussed by the CDA included:

• signage for the city of Leeds. The consensus seemed to be that the city did need some type of signage, especially at the 140 exit where so many people are getting off the interstate to visit Bass Pro Shops and the Shops of Grand River.

“We really need everything when it comes to signs. But, we’ll have to take it one step at a time,” Richardson said.

Carol Phillips has been working with the CDA to obtain information on signage possibilities.

“This is about the only town I know of that does not have a “welcome to” sign. When people get off at Exit 140 they probably think ‘this is it.’ There is nothing letting them know Leeds is over the hill,” Richardson said.

CDA member Carl Marbury agrees that a sign could lead to more business in the downtown area.

“The sign is the attention getter,” Marbury said. “We want them to know all Leeds has to offer. We need portion of those 3 million visitors coming to downtown;”

• Pat Hall, who is involved with the Communities of Excellence Program (ACE) spoke to the CDA about establishing a leadership program in Leeds, one of the final requirements for ACE certification. She said the CDA would be a logical choice in serving as a steering committee to get the program started;

• Marbury announced that the local organization CLEAR is in the process of hiring an executive director.

CLEAR is a local program designed to help minority residents get more involved in the community, Marbury said.

Richardson pointed out that the CDA is not a legislative body and has no decision-making responsibilities, but rather serves to help promote economic development within the city of Leeds.

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