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Northridge | Valley Focus

Businesses, CSUN Aim to Revitalize Area

May 14, 1997|CLAIRE VITUCCI

Armed with $75,000 in federal disaster aid grant money, businesses along the Reseda Boulevard corridor damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake are looking for an economic boost.

Business officials have teamed up with Cal State Northridge in an effort to form a business improvement district to revitalize shops along Reseda Boulevard from Roscoe Boulevard to Devonshire Street. The district will be funded with money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, granted to revitalize the area after the earthquake.

The group wants Northridge "brought back to the original vitality that it once had," said Dick Hardman, executive director of the Northridge Chamber of Commerce.

A possible aim of the project, tentatively called "Rediscover Northridge," may be to make Northridge more of a college town. About 27,000 students attend CSUN, adding a "sizable customer base" for local shops, Hardman said.

CSUN was chosen as a consultant in the bidding process to help form the district. The project will give students an opportunity to help market or design the future of Reseda Boulevard, said Judy Hennessey, chairwoman of the university's marketing department.

Some students will study how demand might change if stores are improved; others will analyze wish lists of business and property owners and decide whether a business improvement district will satisfy their needs.

The most important issues to property and business owners are parking and landscaping. Future plans include rehabilitating storefronts and reopening boarded-up stores, Hardman said.

Northridge business and property owners are now forming an advisory board to help plan the district. Officials hope to have the district's organizational structure up and running by fall, Hardman said.

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