Green Street predicted to thrive during spring semester

Wesley Fane The Daily Illini Pedestrians walk past Dunkin Donuts on Green Street in Campustown Thursday evening. The restaurant is one of numerous businesses that recently opened or are soon to open in the area.

Wesley Fane The Daily Illini Pedestrians walk past Dunkin’ Donuts on Green Street in Campustown Thursday evening. The restaurant is one of numerous businesses that recently opened or are soon to open in the area.

By Kelly Gibbs

Despite the national economic downturn, the businesses on Green Street are predicted to thrive in the coming months.

Erik Kotewa, deputy director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, said the unique niche market of Green Street will allow it to continue to prosper during potentially hard times ahead.

“A lot of Green Street is much different than other business in Champaign due to the fact that the students are primarily the meat and potatoes of business,” Kotewa said.

“The bulk of business done on Green Street is with students whose needs will continue during the economic slowdown.”

The national economic slowdown is not stopping Dunkin’ Donuts from a embarking on a new expansion plan. This semester will see a new store at 607 E. Green St.

The donut shop’s Champaign launch is part of a plan to expand in existing markets while entering new cities throughout the U.S., according to the Food Business review Web site.

“We haven’t seen any major closings and businesses appear to be doing very well due to a niche student market,” said TJ Blakeman, Champaign city planner.

“I am optimistic for spring semester since students live in close proximity and are always in need of specialty stores.”

The number of specialty stores and national chains on Campustown’s main street has grown over time, said Craig Rost, deputy city manager for development.

“There are many new restaurants and stores including Urban Outfitters, Cold Stone and Chipotle that have been very positive additions in the last couple of years,” Rost said.

Still, Fred Giertz, head of the University’s economics department, said the national economic crisis has some negative implications for local businesses.

“Businesses are not just local, they are also affected by the national economy,” Giertz said. “A lot of retail stores are cutting back and some are closing down.”

Large-scale projects are also still in the works.

Blakeman said continuing to improve the streetscape would be a positive project for the city as a whole.

“The city has planned to continue the streetscape from Fourth to First, which will greatly improve the aesthetics of the area,” said Blakeman.

“However, we will have to wait to check with capital improvements funding to see if those dollars are still there, but this would certainly be a positive improvement for businesses as well as for the students.”

Rost also has positive predictions for the campus’s food and entertainment area.

“We currently have the best mix of businesses on Green Street that we have seen in the memorable past,” said Rost, “Campus is looking good.”