It's said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
And a group of North George Street business owners are hoping it's profitable, too.
Taking a page from the success on nearby Beaver Street, the merchants are hoping an artsy beautification project will increase pedestrian traffic -- and sales -- along York City's main north-south corridor.
The group paid artists to create 10 pieces of street art, which will be placed along North George Street in the downtown area sometime this summer.
But before then, the street is getting four new crosswalks between Clarke Avenue and North Street -- with an anonymous donor picking up the $160,000 tab.
Half of the $20,000 art project was funded by a private donor as well, and the rest came from the business owners, who made a pledge to Mayor Kim Bracey to try to emulate the recent rebirth of Beaver Street.
First envisioned by former Mayor John Brenner a decade ago, the Beaver Street arts district was the result of a task force of artists, business and property owners, engineers, architects and representatives from art organizations.
The area eventually sprouted functional art pieces and colorfully painted parking meters -- as well as new shops and galleries.
And more are in the works, including the former Fraternal Order of Eagles near the intersection of Philadelphia and Beaver streets. That grand old building is undergoing a $2.5 million renovation and will soon open as a cultural arts center, featuring seven studios on the lower floor where artist tenants will be able to display and sell their creations.
The effort worked in the Beaver Street area and there's no reason it can't work on the North George Street corridor.
In fact, it's long overdue.
The area is home to many small businesses -- including yours truly, The York Dispatch -- as well as landmarks like the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, the Valencia Ballroom and the York County Judicial Center.
From our windows, we've seen new pieces falling into place over the past few years.
Recent additions include Sovereign Bank Stadium and the Codo 241 apartments to the north. That's the same area that will be home to the Northwest Triangle, an ambitious redevelopment project to replace once-blighted space with a mixed-use neighborhood of market-rate homes and apartments, stores and open areas.
As Jim Gross, the city's public works director, says, "There's a lot of things on that block."
But for it to become the bustling destination Beaver Street has become, it needs the same sort of grassroots touches -- and we're pleased to see the North George Street merchants leading the charge.
"We admire everything that the merchants along that corridor of Beaver Street did," said Judd Lando, a member of the North George Street business alliance. "I've heard nothing but rave reviews from visitors."
In this case, flattery just might get them everywhere.