WHEATON – 2013 has been a busy year for business in Wheaton.
The ups, such as new stores opening, local development and a city-led plan to revamp the downtown, have come alongside the downs of empty storefronts and business closures.
Here are five of the biggest stories of the good and the bad from the last year:
1. Wheaton Downtown Strategic and Streetscape Plan
The $64 million city project could make for a very different downtown on both sides of the tracks in a few decades.
The plan would create three “festival streets,” a new central park, a skating rink, better bike paths, improved signage and would increase the development of additional residential and retail opportunities.
The project allows for future city councils to pick and choose what to implement and when to implement it, but it could still mean big changes on the horizon.
2. Mariano’s opening
When Wheaton’s newest high-end grocery store opened Oct. 29, patrons were forced to circle its parking lot for minutes to find a parking spot.
Arguably one of the city’s biggest business openings in recent memory, Mariano’s has given the entrance to downtown Wheaton a more visible landmark and a regional draw.
It is estimated to generate $70 to $80 million in annual revenue and provides about 425 full- and part-time jobs.
3. Long-time businesses closing
Alongside the flurry of new businesses this year there were several closings – including some of Wheaton’s most beloved long-time tenants.
Most notable were The Paper House, Knippen’s Shoes and The Stork’s Cradle, which, when combined, spent more than 100 years in business in Wheaton.
4. New businesses opening
Wheaton, particularly the downtown, saw several new businesses set up shop this year.
U-Crave frozen yogurt, River City Roasters, PampleMousse Bakery, Brick’s Wood Fired Pizza, Bella Roba, Namaste Salon and Spa and Andrew’s Garden, among others, opened their doors to the public this year.
5. Tenants begin moving into Wheaton 121
Though construction on the $60 million luxury apartment complex began last year, tenants started leasing out space in the 306 unit downtown building in 2013.
Amenities for Wheaton 121 include a public theater, fitness room, common room and more.
For more information on these stories and other Wheaton business news, visit www.mysuburbanlife.com/wheaton.
If you are opening a new business or hosting an event or fundraiser, email Wheaton reporter Nathan Lurz at firstname.lastname@example.org.