An urban planner says the closure of some longstanding businesses in Sudbury's downtown are part of a gradual improvement in the area.

The vice-president with the non-profit Canadian Urban Institute, Glenn Miller, said it's not as though there are several empty storefronts in a row — and the isolated spots that are newly available are opportunities for new entrepreneurs.

He's helping Sudbury's downtown businesses formulate the basis of a plan to move forward.

“It tends to be more the independent entrepreneur who can build up a loyal base of customers.”

for lease sign, downtown sudbury

An urban planner says he doesn't consider some recent downtown business closures in Sudbury to be bad news. (Chris Berube/CBC)

Miller is helping Sudbury's downtown businesses formulate the basis of a plan to move forward and said there has to be some turnover to create a healthy downtown.

Miller said new independent retail ventures will come in to fill the gaps created by the recent closures of the Black Cat, Joe Lezar's menswear and Records on Wheels.

Businesses like upscale cheese shop Fromagerie Elgin, owned by Jake Callingham and Christina Greco, are ones that will prosper as Sudbury’s downtown evolves, Miller said.

Callingham describes the downtown as the hub — one he predicts is gaining ground with Sudbury shoppers and diners.

“All the different communities … lead out from spokes in the wheel, and eventually the hub has to be the strongest part,” Callingham said.

He added there's no place else he'd rather have his business.

Laurentian economics professor David Robinson says creating more housing downtown would build a customer base — but it’s a move that needs city council's support.

“We could be encouraging apartment buildings in the area rather than letting them go all over the place,” he said.