In 1997, the idea of living downtown was just starting to take hold. A few brave folks, with Eric Lindstrom in the lead, started to make their mark downtown. Many in the community laughed at the idea, and thought the experiment with downtown living would fail. Eleven years later, downtowners are still going strong, and on Sunday, Dec. 7, they invite you to share their world during the annual Candlelight Loft Tours.
    The event, which has become something of a tradition, opens up the homes of some of the city’s downtown dwellers for the less urban of us to get a peek inside. This year, 10 to 12 lofts will be on display during the tour, which is sponsored by the Downtown Alliance. {mosimage}
    “It’s a chance for people to see how we live downtown,” said Chris Villa, a downtown dweller and a member of the alliance. “With all of the growth downtown, while it’s still not New York, it’s pretty cool being downtown.”
    Villa explained that the people who choose to live downtown are a pretty diverse group: singles, couples, married couples and even a family (Villa’s) make up the neighborhood. And then, there are those day dwellers: the merchants and restaurant owners, the people who work downtown and those who just come downtown to be. She likened it to a “community within a community.”
    “We all consider ourselves neighbors — even the retailers and the restaurant owners,” she continued.
It is that spirit of community that they hope to share during the candlelight loft tours. She explained that volunteers will be at the entrance of each building that has a loft in the tour. The buildings will be marked by luminaries, which will dot the path throughout the tour.
    She said that the residents will be on hand to lead you through the loft and to answer questions about downtown living and the renovations of the buildings.
    “All of the lofts are really different,” said Villa. “There are lofts in older buildings and newer buildings. They are all really different. Some of the lofts will have exposed walls and high ceilings, while others are step ups or step downs into the living areas.”
    She said many of the homes will already be decorated for Christmas, which will add to the excitement of the tour.
    Tickets for the loft tours are $10 and are available at the Downtown Alliance office , Rude Awakenings Coffee Shop, City Center Gallery and Books, all on Hay Street, and the Pilgrim.

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