Downtown needs housing, officials say

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
New condominiums in downtown Cape Girardeau will provide a view of the Mississippi River. (Fred Lynch)

City officials, members of Old Town Cape and the chamber of commerce all say that Cape Girardeau needs more housing stock to make downtown successful.

Rene and Guy Tomasino, who Tuesday night revealed their new condominiums at 20 N. Main St., are determined to bring people downtown.

The Tomasinos invited about 1,100 people to view the New York loft-style condos, where they have lived during part of the reconstruction, which began in November. They didn't decide to sell the space until four weeks ago.

"As far as revitalizing downtown, living there is an important piece," said Marla Mills, executive director of Old Town Cape. "You need to have people of all types living down there as well as tourists and people living elsewhere who want to come for business. The more housing stock that we have downtown, the stronger it will be."

The Tomasinos originally purchased the Main Street property in October 2005 to be the headquarters of their company, Posi-Products, a business that makes and sells plastic connectors for wiring. But, according to the Tomasinos, waterfront properties are a place where people want to live.

"We enjoy downtown Cape and all of its history," Guy Tomasino said. "We are determined to see it become a wonderful riverfront for families to enjoy."

The upper level of most of the River View Condos overlook the river and the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, and the first floor, which was once the mezzanine floor of the old Montgomery Ward building, has two retail spaces for sale.

The condos are equipped with storage areas, an elevator, a large community gathering room and indoor parking from the Water Street side of the building. The Main Street lobby has copper-clad doors from the Con Edison building in New York.

"The city is very encouraged by the development of living spaces downtown and supports anything that helps promote the living, working and playing in Cape's downtown district," said city manager Doug Leslie.

Jane Clark of Century 21 Key Realty on North Kingshighway is the exclusive listings agent for River View Condos and is taking bids on the condos.

According to Clark, many people have already expressed interest in the condos, which the public will get a chance to view this weekend.

John Mehner, president and CEO of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, said the most successful downtowns are the ones of mixed use.

"You have your residential loft apartments mixed in with your commercial professional and entertainment. Throw in some government offices, and that's the way a real successful downtown runs," he said.

335-6611, extension 137

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