IS IT TRUE July 15, 2013

Mole #3 Nostradamus of Local Politics

Mole #3 Nostradamus of Local Politics

IS IT TRUE July 15, 2013

IS IT TRUE a walk through downtown Evansville on Friday morning at 11 am during a period of wonderful weather that is not characteristic of July in Southwest Indiana looks little different commercially than it did back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s when downtown Evansville was placed on the endangered list?…a count of “available” or abandoned storefronts yielded 33 which is essentially the same number as the 32 that were available or empty 15 years ago?…from a commercial perspective downtown Evansville has not changed materially in that time with about 10 similar restaurants, some antique shops, a law office or 3, and absolutely zero interesting or unique boutiques?…the look of Main Street has changed some with the addition of the Ford Center and Innovation Pointe but for the most part private dollars have done little or nothing on Main Street at street level?…at 11 am on Friday one could stand at the Ford Center and fire a rifle down both sidewalks and the street and endanger no one?…foot traffic picked up a little during the lunch break but from an activity perspective the place was dead?

IS IT TRUE entering some establishments and speaking with the proprietors regarding what the Ford Center has done for them only two stated that their business has grown and those were the two bars that displaced perfectly good antique shops to accommodate the thirst of Ford Center patrons after events?…it is interesting that the total seating capacity of the Ford Center support bars is less than 5% of the capacity of the Ford Center, yet seats are still available after events in both bars?…New Wave Bars rages on as always to the disdain of the people who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for condos within sound distance of it?…in reality when examining the amount of rules, investment and red tape that is required to establish an exemplary business in downtown local government spending has done nearly nothing that has spurred development and has actually taken actions that make opening a business downtown financially dangerous?

IS IT TRUE that in late 2010 the owners of the old Farmer’s Daughter at the corner of Main Street and 3rd Streets arranged for an auction of the building to divest of a non-performing asset?…the auction resulted in NO BIDS and the building has not changed one iota since then?…we were told it is for sale for a paltry sum of $165,000 (about $10 per square foot) but that the City of Evansville will require the buyer to spend $300,000 to bring the building up to current codes?…the code requirements basically render this building to be valueless?…most investors (all if you consider the time it has been empty) would not take this building if it were offered to them for free?…the utility bills in these endangered old buildings can be 5 times or more higher than new efficient buildings on either the east or west sides?…given the local government regulations coupled with obsolescence due to inefficiency one would have to conclude that Ford Center or not downtown Evansville will be in a permanent state of 30 to 35 empty store fronts unless something is done to mitigate this sorry situation?

IS IT TRUE if say 40 storefronts were all in need of energy efficiency and code upgrades of say $300,000 each the total investment needed to make these supposed treasures attractive to a business is a paltry $12 Million?…for the cost of a mere dog park or two, six little league fields, or a facelift for Mesker the biggest objections to downtown commercial development could be removed?…we really wonder why such a thing has not been thought of at the other end of Main Street where such advocacy and action is supposed to come from?…we are not endorsing such a thing but we certainly think if Evansville has an extra $12 Million laying around (which it doesn’t but acts like it does) and something with real potential is of interest to elected officials, this would do much more for Evansville than dog parks, skateboard ramps, or little league fields?…it may not save Main Street from the inevitable wrecking ball but this modest upgrade of existing buildings may just do something that the $127 Million Ford Center didn’t, dog parks won’t, and ball fields have no prayer of doing?…that would be giving merchants a reason to consider downtown as a viable alternative?

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  1. Crash Larue says:

    —and these obsolete buildings that comprise Old Downtown are incapable of being brought up to modern Earthquake standards you can be sure. It’s over for Old Downtown except it’s continuing role as a Bottomless Pit for Tax moneys. I suggest the owners of the old Farmers Daughter building tear it down and put in a parking lot, after all a 50 space one just a few blocks away sold for over $600,000 Dollars.

  2. Death to Tyrants! says:

    On most Sunday mornings I walk to and from church. On my route home I walk most of the length of Main Street. Every Sunday the street and the sidewalk are empty from one end to the other. The only business open on Main Street on Sunday is the Main Gate Restaurant and Bar. At noon the place looks like it is empty.

    Yesterday my wife and I spent a couple of hours yesterday in Downtown Louisville. There were a lot of people on the streets and in the shops. Attire ranged from well dressed to retro hippie, and everybody appeared to be having a good time.

    In the 11 years I have lived in this town the only person I know of who has become wealthy is Wienie-Boy, the Ex-Mayor of Evansville. I hope he is enjoying his stash of cash.

  3. inquiringminds says:

    In the day, downtown began at Garvin Park and continued to the shores of the river. Then, let’s bifurcate the entire district by obstructing the flow of commerce by constructing the concrete wall, namely, the Civic Center. Even if, as some have suggested, to corridor the Civic Center, i.e. allow Main street to bisect the “Wall” connecting North Main, i.e. Jacobsville Area [In most need of economic transfusion], although, transforming, it would require millions of investment, and, the City certainly can not afford the levels of investment necessary; however, please don’t divulge this notion to Mr. Winnecke, or the next time the City Council meets, he will have individuals in the audience wearing, “Build all Three” in reference to constructing the Hotel and Med-School. Every town seems to have master plan challenges, and Evansville is not an exception!

  4. Pressanykey says:

    The Louisville Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of about 1.3 million people.

    The Evansville Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of approximately 385,000.

    ___

    • DeltaBravo says:

      And I’m sure there are residents of Louisville that bemoan the fact that it doesn’t have a downtown as vibrant as the Times Square area of NYC…

      You bring up a good point. Expecting our main street to turn into some type of 24 hour entertainment extravaganza is maybe a bridge too far. Attempting to make it a commercially viable ‘ground zero’ for professional services seems like the thing to do. That will result in a potentially sparse population after hours but lots of people with suits and ties scurrying around during the day.

      Also, what are these building code requirements the editor finds so onerous?

  5. Brad Linzy says:

    “…for the cost of a mere dog park or two, six little league fields, or a facelift for Mesker the biggest objections to downtown commercial development could be removed?”

    Please don’t give them any ideas. Next thing you know JCI will be pitching this plan to them. :)

    I’m only being half facetious.

  6. Mantis Toboggan says:

    It is rumored that the State Board Dream Team of Airhead, Sheldon Cooper, and Heifer will be gracing the Civic Center with their presence soon. No CPA’s between them so Rumplebeancounter can easily cook the books and get away with it!

    • Tub says:

      Mantis Toboggan: What did the State Board, Sheldon Cooper and Heifer, do to you. You keep hammering on this topic.

      Mantis Toboggan

  7. GeorgiaHoosier says:

    I had a friend named Christie who had a hair salon downtown. Here Vectren bill was $2,000 per month but her competitors on the east side paid only $300 most of the time. She just rented but the building was a wreck and needed lots of work to meet code or even look decent.

    That old building pretty much ran her out of business and the city didn’t do a damn thing to help. She talked with them too. It was back when Tom Barnett was wasting money on Front Door Pride houses. She got lots of talk and no results.

  8. Blue Bird says:

    For success you need to look no farther then Franklin St on the west side. The majority of buildings seem to be occupied, and the restaurants and bars seem to stay busy most of the time. This success comes from the business owners working together on ideals to get people to come visit Franklin St., not from money from the government, no Ford Center, and no advertisement pay for by the city. Just a group of business owners who takes pride in there west side. And, oh!!! by the way, lets not forget the West Side Nut Clubbers who puts together the 2nd largest street festival in the U.S. every year on Franklin St.

    • Brad Linzy says:

      Can anyone name a business on Franklin St. that gets special tax abatements or incentives to operate there? I can think of none, yet, as this poster points out, Franklin is drawing private investment nonetheless and is thriving by comparison to Main. No Ford Center. No casino. No special treatment. When will civic leaders learn?

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