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Grit: June 27, 1971 – Canal Street Renewal Plan Characterized as “Catalyst”

With all the ingredients needed for development, the Canal Street Redevelopment Project could be the “catalyst” to draw customers from a wide area to downtown Williamsport. Harold R. Eck, of Sardec Inc., developer, told members of the retail division of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, at a meeting last week.

The influx of new trade generated by the opening of the Beltway and Interstate 80, various commercial and municipal activities are expected to stimulate tremendous growth in the Williamsport area, Mr. Eck said. But cooperation of downtown merchants is necessary to this, he added.

A closed-mall facility, located at the lower end of Pine Street, would be “an appendage to downtown Williamsport.” Because of rumors of a major Milton area shopping center, he stressed that “Williamsport has the best chance to provide it here, but if it doesn’t others will.”

“It is up to the local merchants to cooperate in promoting the growth of the city as a retail center. With cooperation, all will benefit,” he added.

Mr. Eck said while parking was not a major problem for Williamsport, it is “the name of the game” and “must be controlled in order to induce customers to stores. One way to ensure that is for tenants to pay for parking too, giving customers free parking, he said.

Mr. Eck said he also had a letter of commitment from a “large promotional department store,” with “great drawing power,” to locate in the project area.

No space has been committed for smaller stores, and no effort is being made to bring any in from out of town. He has had numerous inquiries from local merchants about space, Mr. Eck concluded.