Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Save Our Downtown!

Walking back from the Cultural Plaza on Monday night, I passed by this sad sight. Another retailer (a rare breed to start with) in our downtown is going out of business. Surely a sign of worsening economic times, but also symptomatic of a host of issues and problems in our downtown commercial area.

The following are "snippets" of e-mails that started out relating to the building just east of the Lucerne, at the corner of Lake Avenue and M Street. I am happy to report that it is now in the final stages of renovation and it is a great improvement from how the building looked at the time these e-mails were exchanged.

If you take a look at my e-mail (I have removed the e-mail addresses that this chain was circled amongst for privacy.) The message talks about the situation with the building I mentioned. At the end of the e-mail, I mention an idea and one of my campaign platforms. That was the idea of a "Downtown Summit" where all the stakeholders (property owners, business owners, employees, residents, etc.) would get together and focus on issues/strategies for improving our downtown - both physically and economically. If I had been elected last March, it would have been one of the first things I would have called for as a Commissioner.

Since that time, the Commission and Mayor have spoken very little about the downtown. They did vote to lower the parking space fee from $15,000 per required parking space to $7,000 per space - a good thing. But there is so much more to talk about our downtown. By not seriously inventorying and working on issues impacting downtown, we run the risk of more sad sights like the two pictures above.

The Mayor happened to be copied on this e-mail chain. Notice the date of the e-mail below - July 7th. Notice also that in the e-mail he says that he will be hosting (?) a Downtown Summit this fall after the City gets through the budget process. That was in September 2007.

We are still waiting Mayor.

I urge you to contact your favorite Commissioner(s) and Mayor. Remind them of the importance of a healthy downtown commercial area and request that the Mayor follow through on his promise.