The large retailer who was looking at the empty Dollar General building is not interested in locating there, citing heavy business competition on Route 22.

The news is a disappointment to borough leaders, who had hoped by now to fill the largest empty building downtown.

“The retailer did not think that their numbers would be big enough downtown to support a store,” said Christine Strugala, Ebensburg’s community development director.

Dollar General, the borough’s last downtown general merchandise mainstay, closed in February, despite petitions to the Tennessee-based chain and pressure from elected officials to remain open.

Strugala and others hoped by spring that good weather, the Streetscape’s elegant new look and the recently opened hiking-biking trail would attract a tenant.

Another business is looking at the site, but it would not be a retail outlet like a dime store.

“The biggest problem is that there are three vacancies together, so it looks worse than it is,” Strugala said.

She was referring to the two buildings next to Dollar General – the former Amici’s restaurant location before it moved down the block and the former Karen Jewelers.

Strugala said she has received about eight inquiries from business owners interested in the jewelry-store site, but the owner has not decided whether to sell.

The downtown business vacancies stand out as a sore point amidst the borough’s aggressive $2.5-million revitalization program, including business facade improvements and rehabilitation of two buildings in the historic district.

But Strugala said it’s important to put the setback in perspective.

“Every downtown in the state has vacancies,” she said.

“We’ve been very fortunate here because we haven’t had many. But now that there are three in a row, it seems worse.

“But it’s cyclical. We’re doing a lot of good things, and we’re a step ahead of the rest,” she said.

“When the time is right, they’ll fill up again.”

Strugala said that, overall, the borough’s new look is a positive for businesses.

“We get a ton of compliments. I’ve had so many calls from other towns, asking about our programs. Only good things are yet to come,” she said.

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