Cape Girardeau leaders break ground for new downtown parking lot

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cape Girardeau city leaders broke ground and unveiled plans for a new downtown parking lot Monday afternoon.

The 63-space, two-level parking lot will be at the corner of Main Street and Broadway.

Located next to the Johnson & Schneider law firm, the upper level of the parking lot will have 12 spaces. The law firm's adjoining parking spaces and building will remain unchanged.

The lower parking level will include the remaining parking spaces, a public restroom, green spaces with benches and light poles. A travel center had been proposed but it has been scaled down to an area where travel brochures will be available.

"Since we're only three blocks away, our preference is visitors taking a brochure about the area and then coming to see us to find out more about the area in a face-to-face meeting," said Chuck Martin, director of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Old Town Cape executive director Marla Mills called the dedication another positive step for the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Development for Missouri, or DREAM, Initiative. The program, created by then-Gov. Matt Blunt in 2006, was designed to bring planning help to smaller cities that could not otherwise afford a costly consultant and to focus state economic development help on those cities. Initiative grants totaling $371,400 will fund the parking lot project, according to city engineer Kelly Green.

"We're both excited and pleased that this project has finally come to fruition," Mills said. "It's a culmination of a lot of hard work by a number of people. Many times the public hears about plans associated with the DREAM Initiative but this is something that has broken ground and will be carried out before their eyes."

Among the groups involved in the design, development and funding for the parking lot are the city, the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation and Special Business District, Old Town Cape, the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Department of Economic Development and the Community Development Corp.

Nip Kelley Equipment Co. of Cape Girardeau is the contractor for the project. Construction will begin Monday.

Mills expects most of the parking spaces to be complete by Sept. 8, when the city is scheduled to be a stop for the Tour of Missouri. The green space area, light poles and other aesthetic features should be complete by late October.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson said parking is a critical part of downtown development and the project is necessary for the area's growth.

"This has been a long time in the making," Knudtson said. "The parking lot and green space will be a focal point of the downtown area.

"One part of it in particular that I'm excited about is the public restroom area," Knudtson said. "I can't tell you how many times I've been called asking about when we'll get a restroom for those walking beside the river. Now we'll have a restroom facility for out-of-town visitors and those locally to enjoy."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent address:

Broadway and Main Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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