LIMA — Downtown Lima’s next major project is the Central District, a $4 million effort to transform a block of empty warehouses and undeveloped greenspace along Central Avenue into a collection of flats, urban dining, retail and makerspace venues, which organizers imagine will become a must-see attraction in downtown Lima.
The Central District will extend from Elm to Spring Street, slated to open in phases starting in the winter of 2021.
Renderings were unveiled Thursday during a public ceremony, which drew dozens of community leaders and others to the future site of the Central District.
The project, headed by Tracie Sanchez and Jerome O’Neal, has been in the works for nearly two years and has drawn the support of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Lima Region Inc. and others.
“What we tried to do here wasn’t just reinvigorate or repurposing a building,” O’Neal said Thursday. “What we’re trying to do here is empower a community. We’re trying to change lives by making sure that people coming to the Central District feel empowered.”
At the entrance of the Central District, on the corner of Elm and Central Avenue, organizers plan to develop a dog park.
Next door, an abandoned warehouse will be repurposed into a makerspace for aspiring entrepreneurs, complete with a commercial-size kitchen and woodworking, metal and tech labs designed for people to learn new skills or hobbies in a collaborative environment, expected by 2022.
The Potts Center, which works with small and minority business owners, will also open its offices in the Central District.
Plans call for the creation of an urban garden and an urban bar, Social House, which will serve small plates and live entertainment, with an outdoor courtyard attached.
The final phase of the project will see the renovation of another warehouse, this time for use as flats and retail space near Spring Street, also anticipated to open in 2022.
All told, developers will repurpose three existing buildings and unused greenspace. Several businesses, including Social House and Touch of Europe bakery, have already signed on to move into the Central District. Organizers expect at least four new businesses and 25 new full and part-time jobs as a result.