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Newark's Downtown Revitalization: A Historic Transformation

CEO Khai Intela
The Arcade, a century-old shopping mall, will soon be revived. Downtown Newark has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, thanks to the city's investments in new streets and sidewalks, as well as numerous historic...

A rendering of what will be the restored Arcade. The Arcade, a century-old shopping mall, will soon be revived.

Downtown Newark has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, thanks to the city's investments in new streets and sidewalks, as well as numerous historic preservation projects. Among these projects are the restoration of two significant buildings on Courthouse Square: The Home Building Association banking office and The Arcade, a cherished shopping mall with a glass roof spanning from 33 N. 3rd St. to 4th Street.

A staggering $33 million is being spent on the restoration of these two buildings alone, with the bank receiving $14 million and The Arcade receiving $19 million. The fact that a significant portion of these funds comes from pledges from the community, with $12 million dedicated solely to The Arcade, demonstrates just how much value residents of Licking County place on preserving these landmarks.

The original facade of The Arcade. The Arcade's original facade is being carefully restored.

The revitalization efforts in downtown Newark extend beyond these two buildings. The Licking County commissioners have invested millions to restore the 1876 courthouse at the heart of the area. Additionally, the owners of several 19th-century commercial buildings surrounding Courthouse Square have transformed them into thriving businesses and created 80 loft apartments. Furthermore, when The Arcade reopens in October, it will provide an additional 19 downtown apartments, according to Megan Ernest, administrative manager for Newark Development Partners.

The Arcade boasts a new glass roof as part of its restoration. The Arcade's new glass roof is a stunning addition.

One of the notable renovated buildings in the area is the Midland Theatre, lovingly restored by the late Dave Longaberger and his Longaberger basket company. This restoration project, which took eight years and $8.5 million, serves as a testament to the importance of historic preservation, the arts, and the potential for downtown Newark.

Another gem in the city is The Works complex, formerly a mid-1800s steam-engine factory. The Works now houses a hands-on museum featuring arts, industry, and history, as well as various shops and a restaurant.

The Home Building Association site The Home Building Association site is undergoing restoration.

As a longtime resident of Newark, I have witnessed this incredible transformation firsthand. My family and I recently attended an event at The Works and marveled at the bustling atmosphere downtown. The Midland Theatre hosted a concert, while The Works filled with patrons observing a captivating glass-blowing demonstration and participating in a charity auction. Additionally, local restaurants and caterers provided delightful appetizers and desserts.

Beyond Courthouse Square, there is a multitude of establishments for people to enjoy. From craft brews at Shipp Brothers Brewing to wine tasting at Buckeye Winery, and from mouth-watering pulled pork at Moe's Original BBQ to savory steaks at 1922 On The Square and wood-fired pizza at Elliot's, there is something for everyone.

Alan Miller Alan D. Miller, writer and restoration enthusiast.

Reflecting on the past, downtown Newark has come a long way. When my wife and I first moved to this historic neighborhood from northeastern Ohio in the 1980s, the downtown area was barely recognizable. However, it held a certain charm, reminiscent of a scene from the iconic film "It's a Wonderful Life."

Now, Newark is flourishing, shedding its former reputation. The restoration of landmarks like Tiffany's Parlor, the Auditorium Theatre, and The Home Building Association bank building (now home to Explore Licking County) has breathed new life into the city. As The Arcade prepares to reopen, with its 19 apartments and numerous shops, I eagerly anticipate walking through this historic treasure and basking in the vibrant atmosphere of downtown Newark.

Alan D. Miller is a former editor at The Dispatch, a journalism professor at Denison University, and a passionate advocate for old house repair and historic preservation.

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