Southland is one of the shopping-strip sections in Northwood, Ohio.
Northwood Mayor Mark Stoner says his city needs a downtown business district to establish its own identity.
"Northwood does not have a downtown," City Administrator Pat Bacon said in a recent interview. "You drive down Woodville Road. You go through East Toledo into Oregon, into Northwood, and out into Lake Township, and there's nothing that identifies that you left those cities other than a corporation sign. We want Northwood to have a look that says this is a community. This is our town."
The Northwood zoning commission in March will initiate plans to rezone buildings and properties along Woodville Road up to and including the Woodville Mall area, the city's municipal building, and Great Eastern shopping center.
City officials say it will look more like Southland shopping center in Toledo when their plan is finished.
The goal is to create a centralized downtown area in Northwood with buildings that share a more uniform, contemporary look.
"We want to make Woodville Road more aesthetically pleasing and better for pedestrian traffic," Ms. Bacon said. "We plan on doing that by promoting design standards, uniform street lights ..." and trees along streets.
The zoning commission in March will present its plan to Northwood City Council. Commission officials hope the council will agree with the vision it has been developing over the past year.
Mr. Stoner, who supports the city's makeover, plans public meetings to discuss the plan.
This is the entrance to Great Eastern Shopping Center in Northwood.
"Hopefully if [citizens and the business community] see the big picture, they'll see the positive," he said.
Mr. Stoner said the city wants a central gathering place for Northwood citizens, and a storefront shopping district along
Woodville Road with the exception of the Great Eastern shopping center.
"The shopping center is a little unique," he said. "The owners submitted preliminary site plans to the commission for redevelopment of the shopping center. They're working hand-in-hand with us. We're still going to work with them on the redevelopment."
He said a new look could attract new businesses.
Great Eastern shopping center business owner Pat Slygh, who runs Mr. Emblem, a retail and wholesale embroidery store, said she's reserving judgment until she hears more.
"I would have to hear all the particulars," she said. "I think the new look would make it more aesthetically pleasing to everyone. Having an area where you know where Northwood is - I think that's an excellent idea."