Welcome to South Town!
The South Town District of Medina has been designated to extend the Main Street Medina community development footprint to include Smith Road south to Lafayette Road, and east to west from South Broadway Street to South Huntington Street. The South Town Committee is comprised of residents, businesses and property owners within and surrounding the district, and serves to conceptualize and guide its future. The vision proposed for South Town is to enhance the shopper and visitor experience by making South Town more "walkable" and by attracting arts-and-entertainment venues beyond what Public Square and the current Historic District offers.
A Plan for the Future
The first step in planning development efforts in South Town was to identify neighborhoods, property owners and businesses that are already invested in the district and want to take part in its future.
The South Town Committee formed out of monthly meetings held since October 2018 to gain input and consensus from these stakeholders. Attendees discussed the reasons and goals of district expansion; current projects like the Farmers' Exchange rehab/renovation and the relocation of ReStore/Habitat for Humanity to the former Hawkins Market; and city updates on creating a Community Revitalization District and planned streetscape improvements.
In January 2019, participants conducted a S.W.O.T. Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to determine what issues and priorities were most important. View the SWOT Analysis here. These results of the analysis were reviewed and approved in February:
• Need for expansion of business district/development of South Town
• Build on historic legacy & unique niche of South Town
• Unify South Town business district & neighborhoods with common goals
• Encourage development of vacant properties
• Encourage rehabilitation of available building stock
• Improve land use of underdeveloped space to address public needs
In April, a Visioning Workshop was held at the Medina Library for stakeholders to review the SWOT Analysis results, learn the history and legacy of South Town, share common goals, demonstrate a "planning exercise," share development ideas, and discuss opportunities for first-step projects. Review the workshop slideshow here.
The results of the Visioning Workshop concluded with a list of recommendations (see the report here) that begins with these projects:
Since the Visioning Workshop, the City of Medina has already undertaken streetscape improvements on S. Court St. to Lafayette Rd. and S. Broadway St. to Smith Rd. that include new street trees, light posts, and crosswalks. Flag poles and flags have been purchased for the light posts by Main Street Medina and the City. In addition, businesses and/or property owners can purchase and maintain Flower Pots from Boyert's Greenhouse.
Also in May, to celebrate its automotive history and the current variety of automotive-related businesses, a new event, "South Town Cruise-Ins" are now underway every Tuesday, 4-8 pm at 233 Lafayette St., the former Hawkins Market (new home of ReStore/Habitat for Humanity) parking lot, from May 23 to Sept. 24. The event is sponsored by South of the Square Collision and Armstrong.
In May, a Cleanup Team was formed to plan both cleanup events with the help of partners from SustainED, City of Medina, Medina Hospital Green Team, Medina County Soil & Water, Western Reserve Conservancy, and Rocky River Watershed Council. See the results of the June 22 Cleanup and plans for the Champion Creek Cleanup on July 20.
The next South Town Committee meeting will be held on July 18. If you want to be an active participant in the South Town District, contact Main Street Medina Program Assistant, George Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check back monthly for news about upcoming South Town activities and resources.
The History of South Town
In its beginnings, South Town was just the south end of the Village of Medina. The area was populated by about a dozen residences by 1885, with several businesses congregating along Smith Road and the newly constructed Pennsylvania & Akron-Canton Railroad. Industries like the B.H. Wood Supply Co., Hickox Planing Mill and the Medina Carpet & Rug Works sprang up to serve local development. Businesses began sprouting up to service villagers and residents at the Union House Hotel like Fenn's Livery & Stables and the Holben, Eggelston and Benford Blacksmith Shops.
The Village of Medina built its Water Works building at 325 S. Broadway on Champion Creek at the site of an old ashery. At that time, Champion Creek provided water north to Public Square. The Water Works plant moved to Rocky River in 1911 and the site became the Clement Concrete Co.
Medina Farmer’s Exchange was built at its present location in 1904, but was rebuilt twice due to fires in 1915 and 1935 that destroyed both the original structure and its first reconstruction.
The 1920s witnessed South Town’s emergence as a distinct quarter within the Village. Focusing around W. Smith Rd. and the railway line, South Town thrived as the industrial center of Medina. South of Mill Street was still three-quarters residences.
By the 1930s, as automobiles eventually would replace horse & carriage, dealerships and filling stations began to change the identity of South Town from an industrial to a commercial district. Most notably, the growing City of Medina continues to thrive amidst the Great Depression.
By the 1960s, South Town continues to develop its automotive presence similar to today, with four filling stations at the intersection of Court Street and Lafayette, and several auto repair shops and dealerships. South of Mill Street continues to change, with businesses and apartment complexes replacing homes from the 1910s and 20s.
More of the history of South Town is available from the Visioning Workshop presentation (left) and the Beyond the Storefronts website noted below.
Photos courtesy of Bob Hyde, Beyond the Storefronts