Hats off to developers on Courtyard opening

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Anyone who reads this space regularly knows we like to step back periodically and take a look back to appreciate where we are.

The opening of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in downtown Cape Girardeau is another one of these moments.

You have to go back to 1971 to remember the last time there was a hotel operating in downtown Cape Girardeau.

The Courtyard is magnificent, a beautiful remake of the old H-H Building on Fountain Street.

It is a symbol of downtown’s resurgence, the latest in a phase of projects that has turned around our historic district, an overall phase that includes the revamping of the Marquette building, the filling of the old federal courthouse, the construction of a new casino, the reconstruction of the Broadway and Main Street streetscape, and numerous other developments and improvements. Next on the project list is the redevelopment of the old Esquire Theater, the city’s redevelopment requests to remake or re-purpose a parking lot, the extension of Fountain Street and other projects in the planning stages.

These improvements did not happen by accident, and the Courtyard hotel is a shining example of what it takes to turn around a downtown. The co-developers, Jeff Maurer and Scott Rhodes, with the Old Town Cape Historic Landmark Preservation Group, raised and invested funds to construct the Marquette Tech District, which was expected to cost $20 million, according to early estimates reported by our newspaper in 2016. This is not a slam-dunk success. It’s a risk. But also a gamble on their town’s future.

The H-H Building is one of two structures being renovated into a 91-room, Marriott hotel. The other is the Marquette Center, which fronts on North Fountain Street, and is behind the H-H Building. The Courtyard is a sibling to the Marquette Tech building, which used to be a hotel long ago and now houses startup tech companies among other things.

But the Courtyard is also more than a symbol. Between that and the Marquette, the properties are expected to bring hundreds more people into downtown on a daily basis.

We thank the developers who both rolled the dice and their sleeves to make Cape a better place. We hope the businesses prove to be prosperous as the downtown continues to grow and improve.

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