The city of Terre Haute has longed struggled to beef-up the downtown core. Although many locals would like to preserve and improve downtown, that’s not been an easy task.
Driving along Wabash Avenue, there’s plenty of evidence that the city has quite a few gaps along this vital streets. “Terre Haute is a unique place, if they love you, you’ll be busy, and if they’re not so crazy about it, you may or may not succeed,” said Mike Ellis.
Local attorney Mike Ellis comes from a family of downtown business owners. He’s recently seen two of his tenants leave, a lounge and an upscale boutique. And there are many more like them.
“I think all those businesses are probably just a little before their time for Terre Haute,” said Ellis.
While some businesses struggle to stay afloat, and despite the number of empty storefronts, Mayor Duke Bennett is optimistic about downtown. “That energy kind of has already provided opportunities for people to want to be a part of that. A lot of them are looking for the foot traffic. They want to locate their business where cars are going to drive by, people are going to walk by and they’re going to visit their business,” said Bennett.
There’s a window of opportunity in downtown Terre Haute. Sometimes it boils down to day and night. Taco Tequila offers a vibrant nightlife for local college students and caters to a community crowd during the day. It’s an approach encouraged by Ellis who is the landlord for the eatery.
“We’re talking about students, we’re talking about campus. We have to realize that sometimes their days don’t begin until ours typically end,” said Ellis.
Taco Tequila owners also operates Los Tres on South U.S. 41. Expanding to downtown is working for their business. “I’m really happy, when I move to downtown, I’m really excited here,” said Eber Fernandez.
There are projects in the works for Terre Haute’s downtown. Construction is underway on new housing along Cherry Street. Efforts continue to add a convention center to the Human Center, and there’s talk of an additional hotel.