Turnout low for Jackson DREAM meeting

Mike Hemmer with PGAV Planners speaks Tuesday at the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri public meeting in Jackson. (Fred Lynch)

A consultant sought guidance on building designs to be included in a strategic plan for uptown Jackson on Tuesday during a sparsely attended public meeting and another private meeting with property owners and school and church officials.

Only two people attended the public meeting held Tuesday evening at the city library. A dozen property owners, school and church officials took part in a private meeting with consultants earlier in the day, said Michael Hemmer, project manager with PGAV Planners.

Hemmer is creating a strategic plan for uptown Jackson as part of the city's DREAM Initiative. Jackson was selected for the program, which stands for Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri, in 2010. According to its website, Missouri's DREAM program provides selected communities with access to the technical and financial assistance they need to accomplish their downtown revitalization plans.

Hemmer outlined an approximately 17-block area on which the strategic plan will focus. Pepper Alley is the north boundary while Monroe Street serves as the south boundary. Russell Street is the west boundary and the area extends east to Georgia Street. The central focus of the area is the courthouse and Main Street, Hemmer said.

Estelee Wood, a Jackson native and member of the newly formed Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization, said she felt the focus area was too big and included too many residential areas.

Photographs of uptown Jackson were on display by PGAV Planners on Tuesday at the DREAM Initiative public meeting in Jackson. (Fred Lynch)

Hemmer said he believed it was manageable and said other communities had done both much larger and smaller areas.

He showed photos of several buildings in the selected area and discussed examples of both good restoration attempts and areas that needed improvement.

Hemmer noted buildings with air conditioning units positioned above their front doors, cluttered signage and buildings with a more industrial than Main Street feel.

"We're trying to take unproductive property, improve it and improve the area and atmosphere around it to help a business come into it," Hemmer said.

Rebecca Ward, who lives near the DREAM area boundaries, is also a member of the Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization, suggested the consultants focus on the parking lot behind Tractor's Restaurant.

"The back probably gets more traffic than the front of Tractor's does," she said.

A more appealing back parking lot and entrance could bring additional traffic to uptown businesses and create a space for outdoor seating, Hemmer said.

The strategic plan isn't expected to be completed until 2014 or 2015, Hemmer said.

He expects to complete an organizational structure review, building design guidelines, and financial assistance review, which all will be incorporated into the plan by the end of this year. Next year, PGAV will focus on a retail and residential analysis, he said.

As part of the financial assistance review, consultants will evaluate the possibility of establishing a Tax Increment Financing or Community Improvement District in uptown Jackson. Both are tax revenue-generating entities that could help fund future improvements. It is too early in the process for cost estimates.

"We think there needs to be a local funding mechanism," Hemmer said. "If we won't invest in our downtown, how can we expect someone else to?"



Pertinent Address:

100 North Missouri Street

Jackson, MO 63755