ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- The President of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce supports creating a Business Improvement District for the downtown.

Julie Lunning says this is the third attempt to create a BID, but this time there is more interest than before especially from businesses that are not located downtown.

She says downtown foot traffic has changed over the years.

With the change in the business dynamic downtown with remote workers now, we need to figure out another way to entice people to downtown.  We don't have thousands of workers that would go out for lunch or happy hour.  We do great in the evening, a lot of people come down for the entertainment and restaurants, but we need those people all day long every day.

Over $750,000 in donations from businesses has been committed to the BID, most of which has come from businesses that are not in the downtown.

There is an informational session on July 9th at 8:00 a.m. at the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, and the St. Cloud City Council will hold a public hearing on July 22nd.

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Now that the Stearns County Commissioners have decided to move a new Justice Center out of downtown St. Cloud, there are questions about what that will mean for the area.

Lunning says it is not a negative and sees it as a huge opportunity to get more people to live downtown.

Where are you going to get your groceries and other things?  But that won't come unless we have the people, but the people won't come unless we have the services.  I really see that as an opportunity if we have a well-thought-out plan that can bring all that together and have that residential feel downtown on that footprint.

Lunning says the Lofts downtown are pretty much full. She says many larger corporations use them as temporary housing for new employees as they look for more permanent housing. She says most of the second-story apartments in the older buildings downtown are also full. So, there is a demand for more housing downtown.


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