Urban renewal can be a tricky thing sometimes, but the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership (LEAP), formed through the recent combination of the Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation and the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce, seems to have things handled. Recent successes in the area, such as the recently-opened Bare Bones Gastropub located at 518 Lincolnway in downtown La Porte, have most certainly confirmed this.
Mike Riehle, President of Chamber Services for LEAP says that having restaurants such as Bare Bones come to downtown La Porte helps create a foundation for further growth in the area.
“Bare Bones is bringing in a new flair to the area,” said Riehle. “They have been great to work with and people really love the gastropub setting. They offer unique dining options and also offer a good selection of both craft beer and wine. It’s quickly becoming a driving force, bringing more traffic to our downtown.”
Riehle says that LEAP continues to focus on improving the downtown area through grants that encourage businesses to reinvest there.
“Some of these grants are being used to improve the facades of several buildings here in downtown La Porte, and we are currently in process to improve six more buildings in the area.”
Riehle says that 80% of the costs are covered by LPUEA, with building owners contributing 20%.
“It all goes strictly to tuckpointing, painting, and adding new awnings. We have roughly 30 buildings done to date.”
Other successful projects include Plaza 618, a central, urban open space that serves as a place to relax, play, or enjoy live music. The Plaza hosts the popular Friday Movie Night that offers free, family-friendly entertainment under the stars. Plaza 618 also features a ground-level splash pad to help kids cool off during the warm summer months, as well as a recent addition of a 108-foot mural depicting the history of La Porte, done by Indiana artist Tom Torluemke.
Blake Murray, co-owner of Bare Bones Gastropub says that working with LEAP has been a great opportunity.
“Working with them has been really smooth and awesome. We’re hoping that this will be a great segue to get even more businesses to come to the downtown area here in La Porte. A lot of people are already jumping on that opportunity. We’re seeing a lot of construction here lately.”
Bare Bones opened in early June, and Murray says that public reception has been strong.
“Our dinner service has been great, and we’re seeing good reviews from the public, so that’s terrific. We’re looking forward to some fun specials we’ll have coming up soon.”
Riehle says that downtown areas are a critical part of any community.
“They are a central part of the community,” said Riehle. “When people come here, they drive downtown and it’s their first impression of the city. That’s important when you’re looking to recruit new businesses to the area - they want to know that you’re investing heavily in your downtown. It also gives the local residents the confidence that local businesses and government are working together to keep the area vibrant.”
“This will reap rewards well into the future,” said Riehle.
For more information about LEAP, visit them online at https://www.laportepartnership.com/.