Downtown Winona has many positive attributes, according to both residents and visitors, but all agree changes could be made.
Evelyn Blagsvedt, who is a resident of Winhaven Court, spends most of her time in the downtown area. Blagsvedt believes the downtown area could be improved through a series of small changes. Just adding signs and lights to attract people, could make all the difference, she said.
Gene and Jean Lauer frequent the downtown area to support local businesses, such as Jefferson’s Grill and Pub, and enjoy time outdoors along the waterfront. The Lauers feel that better access to Levee Park would be beneficial, and adding some flowers and removing weeds could make it more inviting. Gene Lauer would also like to see the downtown district flourish, while keeping its own distinctive look. He feels that preserving the old buildings and keeping a part of history is an important part of downtown Winona. “I would like to see them just renovate the older buildings, but keep the history there,” Gene Lauer said.
As much as the locals enjoy downtown Winona, Blagsvedt and the Lauers agreed that a little more variety in the businesses downtown would be a marked improvement. Blagsvedt suggested adding a new drug store, similar to the Thrifty Drug that went out of business downtown. Jean Lauer mentioned that having a couple restaurants where you could dine along the river, similar to those in La Crosse, would bring in more people to enjoy the view. “I like to support the local places, but it’d be nice to see some businesses that weren’t geared as much towards college students,” Jean Lauer said.
Larry and Carol Borchelt, visiting from Indiana, enjoy most the river and its view. As visitors, they had a different perspective from the locals, but agreed that things could be added to make downtown more inviting to the tourists. “Improvements such as plaques along Levee Park with historical information, and telescope viewfinders to look up and down the river, would be nice,” Larry Borchelt said. The Borchelts believe a visitor’s center, along with snack carts, or an ice cream shop would do well in Levee Park. Regardless of what isn’t available at this time, the Borchelts have always enjoyed their time visiting Winona.
Downtown Winona already has its fans, but positive changes could potentially bring even bigger crowds to the area, all those interviewed believe.