Friday, February 09, 2007

Should the city of Carbondale work to help Downtown/"The Strip" do better?

Clearly, the big box stores and the students not walking has really hurt the downtown businesses on "The Strip". Should the city do some of those city kind of things to make it a better place to conduct business? Should they work to reroute 51 around Illinois Ave in the downtown to make a pedestrian mall? Should they offer an incentive to fix up some of the old buildings or build new ones? Tear down the Varsity and make a parking lot? There must be something else they could do?

What do you think, should the revitalization of the Downtown/Illinois Ave./Strip be a civic priority or should we just let all the business go out to the mall area and the big boxes?

Your comments are welcome.


Anonymous said...

I doubt we could pull a Robert Moses here.

Ironically, Walter Wendler is an expert on the work of Robert Moses. Maybe he'd know a thing or two on how to go about it.

sthorne said...

Actually, if you look at downtown Carbondale, it's in pretty good shape. The Varsity, which Kerasotes shows no interest in working to put a business in, the Saluki Bookstore, which is owned by Cristado's and may become a second location for them, and Sambuca Joe's (sp), which has several prospective buyers looking at it. Much of the preception of the emptiness of of downtown comes from the unusual amount of open space there, especially along the west side of S. Illiniois and where the Peerless and Southern Recyling buildings stood. Those are a couple of spots for which I'd actually advocate a tax waiver, rather than giving them out in the Reed Station area.

As far as a pedestrian mall, not only no but Lord no. They were tried extensively in the 70s and 80s as a response to the growth of shopping malls and generally failed. St Charles MO closed off half its downtown streets during that time period to create a pedestrian walking area. The half people could drive in remained lively with restaurants and boutiques. The half they had to walk in was half to 3/4 empty storefronts. Opening up the area to vehicle traffic again during the late 90s was a major factor in its revitalization.

Peter in Carbondale said...

After reading sthorne's reply, I guess I'm kind of in agreement.

Since downtown was in much worse shape 5.5 years ago when I moved back to town (even with the Varsity open), why has it turned around downtown? What can be done to make it even better?

sthorne said...

I was tired last night and should have added that the Varisity, Saluki Bookstore and Sambucca Joe's buildings are the only major empty buildings in downtown.

Roxanne Conley said...

I usually just check this blog to keep tabs on Peter, but now you are talking about my baby, so I must respond.

Hurray for sthorne!!!!
I could have written his comments.

Quick comments:
1.Empty lots in Downtown have replaced some real eyesores that were a major source of complaints.

2.Creating a pedestian mall would kill the downtown. People don't want to walk very far outside.

We need people to know the following. Downtown offers shoes, clothing, outdoor gear, bike shops, jewelry, camera, books, pet supplies, gardening supplies, art,
music, great gifts, specialty tobacco, florists, printers, toys and games, banks,a diverse selection of restaurants,natural foods, auto parts, services galore, Wi FI and yes we have some bars. Concerts, festivals, Farmers Markets and Ceremonies happen Downtown as well. Sounds like a great place to shop, dine and enjoy.

If Carbondale Main Street had the resources they would:
(maybe not in this order Peter but I'm in a hurry)
1. Award more exterior improvement grants to businesses.
2. Develop and fund more cooperative advertising campaigns.
3. Have a well funded marketing program that would showcase what Downtown Carbondale has to offer.
4. Expand our Brown Bag Concert Series.
5. Work even more closely with the University in bringing students by foot or by car downtown.
6. Recruit more retailers.
7. Weekly clean up program.

Ok, I'll stop because I could go on and on. There is always room for improvement, but I say Downtown is in pretty good shape and would be better if more people would quit assuming and saying it is only bars and empty buildings.

Check our web site.

Anonymous said...

Parking is still a problem. I doubt there is enough demand to put up a parking garage. But any thoughts on how to expand parking would be useful.

The area around 51 & Jackson has a crime problem. The owners of ABC Liquors, Tres, & Big Boy's Q'n need to stop the nonsense. Tres and BBQ
are having fights at night. Bar tenders at Tres themselves get drunk. Could the Carbondale Main Street people set up a meeting with these owners and the police to dsicuss this issue? Are there other busnesses in that area that are causing problems at night?

sthorne said...

What areas are you looking at in regards to a parking problem? The 710 lot? The lot in front of Tres?