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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Vitae Viride is Closing their Fort Thomas Location

Vitae Viride, a retailer selling all-natural personal care products and cosmetics has announced they intend to close their Fort Thomas location on February 16, 2018.

The store is located at 118 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, next to Fort Thomas Coffee.

RELATED: Vitae Viride to Open in Fort Thomas' Central Business District 

Fort Thomas resident and owner of the store, Emily Little, manufactured the goods sold in her store under her other business, Queen City Alchemy.

She also announced that Queen City Alchemy will be re-opening as part of a new joint venture with The Evergreen Designs in late Spring/Summer. The Evergreen Designs is a business that specializes in hosting "sign parties" where guests create custom wooden signs, custom apparel and accessories.

She opened her location in April of 2017.

"We’ve loved our time spent here in Fort Thomas and thank each of you for the support of our little business," Little told Fort Thomas Matters. "We’ve been blessed here and are hopeful for the future."

The Central Business District in Fort Thomas has endured many vacancies recently. High-profile closures of restaurants and retailers such as 15 North Pizza, Subway, The Art House and The Polished Pearl within the last 18 months, coupled with a few longtime businesses taking different career directions, has the main artery in Fort Thomas struggling to find sound economic footing or direction.

Barre3 Ft. Thomas. Located in Fort Thomas Plaza. 
In 2012, Fort Thomas applied to be a Kentucky Cultural District from the state's Arts Council. That application was not accepted. So without the state designation, the city began crafting its idea of what a local arts district should look like within the boundary of 1-200 N. Fort Thomas Avenue between Highland Avenue and the city building. In 2015, the City announced they had 23 businesses in the district that had something to do with the arts.

Later that year, Fort Thomas resident and United Property Group owner, Dan Gorman, bought The Hiland Theatre building, located in the heart of the Central Business District. The large building, once a theatre, housed a few retailers and service businesses. It sat occupied at 27%.

Today it is filled to capacity.

So it's not all negative news.

"We spend a lot of time and resources on our fantastic schools and community events, as well as our beautiful parks and homes,"Gorman wrote in a recent opinion piece on Fort Thomas Matters. "A strong and vibrant central business district is a critical piece we should consider focusing on as a community to make Fort Thomas as great as it can possibly be."

Gorman also wrote that he spoke with a developer recently, who stated that his company no longer works in cities that don’t offer incentives.

"Last week I spoke with a small business owner who decided to locate her business in Covington, as opposed to Fort Thomas, because of the rental subsidies they provide.  Like it or not, gradually over the last number of years, incentives have become standard operating procedure if you want economic development in your town," he wrote.

Drew Schwegman, President of the Fort Thomas Business Association, said that he feels for Little and her business and that he hears all too often the struggles that new businesses in Fort Thomas face.

He said that the association is currently soliciting opinions from its membership to see what types of incentives would be most helpful to their membership.

"We've been researching what other cities are doing for the last six months. We have an idea of what we think will work and what our city should or should not be doing to help economic development," said Schwegman. "Our goal is to have something in place this year that will be a tangible benefit for our existing businesses and to help attract new businesses. We all want a thriving business community and right now it's pretty clear that we're struggling. We need a shot in the arm."

Schwegman said that the association has met recently with the city administration and that once a consensus is built among the association, they will report their results to city council and will continue to advocate their cause.

Call Ashley Barlow for your legal needs. 859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 
Currently, the City of Fort Thomas is undergoing a city-wide visioning process, in which every facet, from how parks should be revamped to how the city does business will be on the table.

There is a survey that citizens are asked to give feedback and a public meeting tonight at the Mess Hall from 7:00-9:00 p.m. 

The survey, public meetings and guidance from committees will help shape the city's direction of the next few decades.

Both Gorman and Schwegman hope that input from citizens identify a vibrant business community as a priority going forward.

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