People are flocking to the city of Painesville. With a picturesque town square and riverfront, it is the fastest growing community in Lake County. Its quaint downtown and affordable housing are two big reasons why.
Cathy Bieterman, economic development director, attributes the city’s growth to its unique blend of parks, riverfront and historic downtown, along with a growing residential, entertainment and retail mix.
“We have everything like in a big city, but in a smaller quaint community,” she says. “Residents like the walkability here, the amenities close to home and the short commute into town.”
The recent growth in this small 7-square-mile community has been significant. Eleven new residential developments have recently gone up with houses selling, on average, from $175,000 to $280,000. A senior living community and three additional housing developments are currently in the works. And since 1990, the city’s population has increased 26 percent, including an 11 percent surge since the last census.
Painesville’s downtown area is seeing an upswing as well. One of Bieterman’s top priorities is attracting new eateries and nightlife to the area.
“We are aggressively seeking restaurants and breweries to complement our historic town square,” she says.
Several vacant downtown structures are targeted for food and entertainment venues. Preliminary architectural renderings and environmental assessments have already been done.
“We have available spots with great rent and high visibility right in the center of town,” she says. “These are great locations for breweries and restaurants with evening atmospheres and outdoor patios.”
Painesville’s growing population is young, too. With an average age of 32, young professionals are attracted to the value and lifestyle the city has to offer. All this creates an environment where a vibrant downtown would thrive, according to Bieterman.
“We want to bring a product that young folks are looking for into our downtown,” she says.
Bieterman points out that downtown Painesville already has the authentic features that many of today’s developers are trying to re-create with new, popular suburban mixed-use centers.
“We are reinvigorating our downtown while preserving its charm,” she says. “We have an original Western Reserve town square anchored by the Lake County Courthouse and monuments. Visitors will find unique historic details like the original carriage ties where people used to tie their horses. Many of our downtown buildings have original woodwork, architecture and solid building materials that you just don’t find today.”
Newer schools and significant investments in the city’s streetscape top off Painesville’s appeal to young residents. A fitness walk with exercise equipment runs along the Grand River. Thirteen neighborhood parks, including a dog park, are located within the cozy community. The Greenway Corridor, a 4.8-mile paved bike path, leads to Lake Erie in one direction and connects with a trail to Chardon in the other.
Every week from May through October, the city puts on events that help draw people downtown, including gazebo concerts, a weekly farmers market, food trucks and a Friday car cruise. In July, Party in the Park, the city’s signature event, attracts 70,000 people. Winter events like the Holiday Shop and Stroll keep the town square busy year-round.
“Our square downtown is always hopping,” adds Bieterman.