Old Town Cape director talks downtown improvements at First Friday Coffee

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Old Town Cape executive director Marla Mills told business leaders to think of downtown as everybody's neighborhood during a presentation at the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce's First Friday Coffee at the Show Me Center.

"There really is a lot going on and we're really excited about it," Mills told the audience.

She discussed a new low-interest loan fund program developed this year to help businesses finance improvements to building facades.

The Cape Girardeau Area Community Development Corp. and the Industrial Development Authority of Cape Girardeau County are going to establish the loan fund.

Old Town Cape is also offering free design assistance to businesses interested in improving the look of their buildings, Mills said.

"A lot of times, people don't fix up their buildings, not because they don't want to, but because they just don't know what to do," she said.

Several businesses along Broadway have expressed interest in taking part in the program, Mills said.

Another project that will improve the look of downtown is the city's $3.85 million Broadway corridor rehabilitation project.

"It will impact Broadway and all of downtown in a way we can't even imagine," Mills said. "It will create a better and safer pedestrian experience, and when this street is complete, it is going to be where everyone wants to be from our businesses to our citizens."

An open house where the public may review and provide input on Broadway streetscape design plans will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the First Presbyterian Church at 235 Broadway.

A new citywide wayfinding signage system will be installed next year, helping direct people to downtown Cape Girardeau and nearby attractions, Mills said. The signage is being funded by an advance in anticipated gaming revenue from Isle of Capri into a Riverfront Fund established in the city's development agreement with the casino company.

Downtown progress

Mills also gave a progress report on goals included in the city's downtown strategic plan.

Of the 71 tasks in the plan, 51 have been completed in the last four years or are in progress, she said.

The top goal of the plan was to create a Community Improvement District to help sustain area enhancements, Mills said. A steering committee is about halfway to establishing the district.

It will encompass about 500 properties, Mills said.

"Over the next year, hopefully we'll complete that process and be able to do even bigger things in downtown in the future," she said.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

235 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

1333 N. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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