Walk-about shows off downtown spaces

Monday, July 2, 2007
Tom Meyer showed the penthouse floor of the Marquette Tower to Nancy King, center, and Judy DeClue during a tour of available downtown real estate Sunday afternoon. (Fred Lynch)

Roughly a dozen spaces in downtown Cape Girardeau were open and available for viewing Sunday afternoon during the Downtown Walk-About. The three-hour event featured homes, apartments, condominiums and commercial space.

Organizers of the event said the homes and apartments were marketed toward higher-income residents who want amenities but don't want to deal with upkeep. They estimated more empty-nesters or middle- to upper-management professionals would be interested in the low-maintenance living.

Proximity to downtown Cape Girardeau was also projected as a big selling point for the available properties.

"They're wanting the amenities. The local restaurants they can walk to, the coffee shops," said Tom Meyer, a broker with EXIT Realty and the leasing agent for the Marquette Plaza. "Even church is down the street."

The nearby businesses were something Donna Maguire said she has enjoyed in her time living downtown. Maguire has been trying to sell her five-bedroom home on Bellevue Street since October and opened it up Sunday to potential buyers.

She owns a one-bedroom home in Fredricktown, Mo., which she says is a better size for her now.

Some viewers Sunday were looking at places downtown with the thought of downsizing.

Bill and Brigitta Tinsley currently own a large house on Hilldale Circle and are looking for a one-level home "anywhere" in the city, Brigitta said. The couple looked at the river condos on North Main Street, but was unimpressed with the spaces.

"Those cabinets have mousy-gray paint and cheesy appliances," Brigitta Tinsley said.

The Tinsleys also toured the seventh floor of the Marquette Tower. Half the space has already been leased to Marquette Restaurant and Bar as a banquet room for their catering service, Celebrations, beginning in August. The other half of the floor is being marketed to a law firm, but is not yet contracted.

The entire Marquette Centre was opened for the first time for viewing. The 20,000-square-foot building has been priced at $8 to $9 per square foot for the two surface levels and $4 per square foot for the basement.

Meyer said they are in negotiations to lease the entire building to an out-of-town business looking to locate in downtown Cape Girardeau.

"These are typical of what the metropolitan areas have," Meyers said. The open spaces of the first and second floors of the Marquette Centre lend themselves to several design possibilities.

"It's had some good use, and structurally it's so sound that it would have a long life," he said.

A parking lot behind the Marquette Tower would provide employee and customer parking.

The remaining space in the Marquette Tower is leasing for $12 to $14 per square foot. It is more expensive because of the view from the deck. Meyer said locating in either of these spaces would be good for a business.

"Everyone knows where the Marquette is," he said.

One other apartment building and more homes on the north end of downtown were open for viewing. The apartment building, a combined effort by several couples in the area, has spaces renting for an early-rent price of $1,550 for the penthouse -- which measures more than 1,600 square feet -- to $650 for handicapped accessible one-bedroom apartments or $625 for a 700-square-foot studio. The price includes Internet but excludes utilities.

"The intention was to clean up the neighborhood," said John Robinson, one of the building's investors. The group, Riverbend Investments, bought and renovated the building in an attempt to increase the value of neighborhood property and decrease the amount of crime in the area.

"As developments and investments are made downtown, certain activities have a tendency to move away from that development," Meyer said. "If you had a dark hole and nothing going on around it, that could have a negative attraction, but there are so many positive things going on, it's a natural development."

Robinson said more property purchases are not "out of the realm of possibility," but he wanted to see how well this building did first.


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