Downtown alive!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Downtown Cape Girardeau's revival in recent years is a success story with an added punch: As the area regains much of its historic prominence, even more attention is being paid to the area that once was the commercial heart of the city.

The thriving retail, restaurant and hotel boom along Interstate 55 has made Cape Girardeau the envy of the long stretch between St. Louis and Memphis. Meanwhile, the downtown area, which only a few years ago had too many empty storefronts, has experienced a revival that has sparked retail, commercial and residential renewal and development. A new office building overlooking the downtown floodwall is nearing completion, and it is the first commercial development in the downtown area in decades.

Most of the "new downtown" can be credited to enterprising investors and business owners who never gave up on the area's potential. They got a big boost from the state's support for renovation of the Marquette Hotel building, from the federal government's investment in a new downtown federal building and the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge and a city-university partnership to develop a campus for the arts as a downtown centerpiece.

Several organizations have worked to promote the downtown area, and Old Town Cape has aggressively sought ways to bring new life downtown.

The collaboration, cooperation and participation of everyone involved, including historic preservationists, have brought pride and determination to a vital part of the city.

There is still much to be accomplished. There are still empty buildings downtown. But the enthusiasm of those who have accomplished so much is contagious. There are signs of positive developments all over the downtown area, and every new enterprise seems to spur others.

The pace of downtown rejuvenation is truly a success story worth telling.

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