Fellow planner, David Barksdale, made a great point the other day. In 2005 the situation downtown was much different than what we have today (2009). Sixteen properties were available along the Pearl and Market Street corridors. Large swaths of blocks were unoccupied. Today, in the same area, there are only 4 properties available.
The weakness, and one I’ll take my share of the blame for, is the lack of tracking of important data like this. Local activists focus on the current and in many cases the ugly issues. Seldom do we take the time to look back and appreciate just how much progress has been made. We don’t do a good job of defining the outcomes desired either. I will endeavor to help change that.
As I related to a large group of people recently, the quality of life here has improved here. While I have no data to support this, I do believe the image for the area is changing in a positive way. And this is being done without any coordinated strategy whatsoever. Just imagine if we tried?
I have to go now because it’s the opening day for the Farmers Market. I also have to stop at our local bookstore, Destinations Booksellers, to do some shopping. At 11:00 I’ll be attending a walking tour downtown with dozens of visitors, touring buildings downtown that are in progress of being restored. Then I have to hit River City Winery to pick up two bottles of wine for my Dad’s birthday. I’ll have to grab lunch somewhere along the way, probably at Studio's. Then a stop at the Gallery on Pearl for a Mothers Day gift and a welcome gift for a gal from California who is buying a house on my street. A workout at the YMCA may get squeezed in there or maybe a run along the Greenway (workouts will need to increase, as Wicks Pizza opens in July). And I’m really looking forward to dinner at Bank Street Brewhouse this evening.
Best of all, it’s going to be a “no car” weekend, as I can do all the above walking.
Indeed, 2005 sure seems like a longtime ago.