Private enterprise is key to improving downtown
Announced plans for improving the downtown corridor seem focused on changing the streets and sidewalks. Those plans are limited and incomplete. Downtown merchants want more business. Businessmen dream of more profits. Owners, speculators, and developers expect to profit from changing the downtown corridor. Government envisions increased tax revenue. Many expect the primary funding source to be the taxpayers. This is wrong.
The downtown area offers casinos, clubs, museums, historical buildings, and local restaurants. Attractions include wine walks, ghost tours, the farmers market, ice skating, theater productions, and concerts. Many of these options do not appeal to older residents, families or individuals who do not gamble and/or drink. Many activities do not produce customers needed to sustain a profitable business district.
The downtown needs more diversified attractions to increase its profitability. The addition of a Red Lobster, Outback, or Golden Corral would provide more ding options. A centrally located multiplex movie theater would attract more people to the corridor throughout the day. An increase in the variety of stores would bring new customers downtown. If area buildings were repurposed to create a moderate-to-high-end apartment complex, its residential population would increase daily foot traffic in the corridor.
Improvement can happen. Private enterprise must accept its share of the costs for improvements in the corridor. Government must eliminate unjustifiable use of tax dollars to facilitate needed changes. Together, city government and private enterprise can make the area an inviting and profitable business district.