Eudora It wasn't supposed to work this way.
The $1.4 million spent on improvements to Eudora’s Main Street was supposed to lead to more foot traffic and a more attractive setting that might attract businesses.
But in the months since the project was completed, Curves, Cutter's Smokehouse and Coffee Talk have left.
Then last week, Madame Hatter's Tea Room owner Bonnie Freeland announced she would move her business to Bonner Springs in July.
Counting an already-empty building, there will be five vacant buildings on the east side of Main Street.
The owners of Black Lodge Recording Studio are also selling their downtown building.
The businesses left for reasons ranging from lack of revenue to better business opportunities elsewhere.
It was the latter for Freeland, who will have more space in downtown Bonner Springs. And so, she can expand the catering and special events side of her business.
“It's really hard to run a busy business in this building, space-wise,” Freeland said. “If you get behind in dishes, there's no place to put them, and when the dining room is full there's no place to walk and move around.”
She said she can seat about 50 people now. Her new location will allow her to seat about 72, plus about 12 more on a patio.
A lack of business also contributed to her decision to move.
Downtown Eudora Business Association President Tina Montgomery said she understood that Freeland was doing what was best for her business and that she hoped to see retail businesses fill up the empty buildings.
“Retail is what's going to bring foot traffic and revenue that the city so desperately needs,” Montgomery said.
She hoped the impending spike in traffic that likely will come with the Kansas Turnpike interchange between Eudora and Tonganoxie would help.
Freeland had been at her location on the corner of Seventh and Main streets for about five years. She began looking for a new location about a year ago and when the word got out, area towns began to recruit her.
“Some of these other towns have economic developers and if they hear you're looking to leave, they come after you,” Freeland said.
The Eudora City Council committed $90,000 in the 2009 budget to economic development efforts. Engineering and planning firm Bucher, Willis and Ratliff will conduct studies and site evaluations.
However, the city does not have a full-time position dedicated to recruitment.
“It's terrible that we haven't done enough with our downtown and gotten further along with our redevelopment that we can't hold on to people,” said Heather Noble, who owns Broers Flower Shop.