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Businesses in Leechburg Restoring and Opening

October 6, 2009-

It’s hard to miss Ray Voyten’s newly restored building in downtown Leechburg; during the day, passersby can take in a variety of improvements to the building; new awnings, new doors and windows, freshly cleaned bricks, and more. At night, the building’s façade is cast in a warm yellow light thanks to new up-lighting that was installed. Mr. Voyten was able to renovate his building thanks to the Freeport Leechburg Apollo Group’s façade grant program, where business owners can get funds from the group for façade improvements.

Now, it seems like other businesses in downtown Leechburg are catching the renovation bug, and new stores are opening after seeing the improvements happening to the buildings and public spaces in town. Vicki Beuth, owner of Leechburg Floral, is making improvements to her storefront with the assistance of a grant from FLAG, which is made available through a grant attained by State Senator Jim Ferlo. Her renovation includes new awnings, and touch up painting on the façade. Beuth is also part of a newly formed female investment group called Leechburg Investment Projects (LIPS).

Drawing on the wealth of experience the nine women bring to the table, their goal is to open businesses, operate them for a short period of time, and then sell the business to a younger entrepreneur. The funds that are generated from the sale will be used to continue the process with another storefront until, according to Beuth, “all of the storefronts in Leechburg are filled”. The new owner will have a built in network of seasoned business people to ask questions and provide guidance. Their first business is Books & Beans, slated to open at the end of October at 156 Market Street. Books & Beans will feature coffee by Prestogeorge, fresh baked goods and sandwiches, and free WI-FI internet access.

Another business slated to open at the end of the month is Reuman & Kraft Antiques located at 155 Market Street. Inside visitors will find some of the best selection of antiques from all eras. The wonderful items displayed in the storefront windows may have already tempted those familiar with Leechburg, and the owners are looking forward to opening their doors for the public.

Peg Carnahan from Peg’s Tanning, was one of the businesses that was inspired by all of the restoration activity happening in town, and decided to fix up the exterior of her building as well. After renting her space for seventeen years, Ms. Carnahan purchased the building, located at 116 Market Street. She immediately set out to improve the façade, installing a classy awning and painting portions of the façade. She has been amazed by the reaction and encouragement she has received from other business owners, and is excited for all of the momentum in the downtown.

One of the shopkeepers encouraging her is Amy Glendenning who owns the Hair Shop located at 114 2nd Street. Ms. Glendenning is in the process of a full façade restoration on her building as well. With the help of a grant from FLAG Ms. Glendenning cleaned her original brick façade, installed a new awning, and replaced her windows with specialty-heated windows from GreenHeat, located outside Kittanning. These windows, which Vicki Beuth also plans to utilize in her façade project, heat a section of a room using very little electricity, allowing business owners to save money on their utility bills in the winter.

Graff Gourmet & Printing liked FLAG and Voytex Electrical’s façade and storefront renovation so much that they moved in to the renovated storefront located at 139 Market Street (135 Market Street was also renovated, and houses Mr. Voyten’s electrical business). The new location offers an improved interior space to display their gourmet food items, Lionel trains, as well as house their printing business in the rear of the storefront.

Visitors to Leechburg will now have a convenient location to stay close to the downtown. Last weekend, John Truett opened the Old Parsonage Bed and Breakfast located in an old church built in 1867. There are currently two rooms available, the Ancient Egyptian room featuring a full sized sarcophagus, and the Lilly Bone room, reputed to be haunted by the spirit of a former caretaker of the church. The Old Parsonage Bed and Breakfast is located at 156 Siberian Avenue, just a few blocks from Leechburg’s central business district.

Not all of the activity in Leechburg has to do with building improvements; Krutz Jewelers located at 146 Market Street is offering a unique piece of jewelry in honor of breast cancer awareness. Diane Krutz is a breast cancer survivor and co-owner of the jewelry store. Krutz Jewelers is offering a unique diamond ring with a linking ribbon motif designed by Diane. The ring won first place in the design category at the Pennsylvania Jewelers Association’s 13th Annual Jewelry Design Competition. The PinkiePromise ring is available only at Krutz Jewelers in downtown Leechburg and a portion of the sales goes to support breast cancer research

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