Chamber President Opines on Downtown Evansville’s “Ghost Town” Status



Gillenwater2The president of the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana has issued a statement about why downtown Evansville has deteriorated into being a “ghost town” and never mentions the words “convention hotel” in her statement. What she does state is “WE DON’T HAVE A PLAN. WE NEED GOALS, WE NEED A TIME FRAME, AND WE NEED A LEADER.” It is a good read and we encourage our readers to have a look at it.

Chamber Statement on Downtown


  1. Franklin Street is booming and I am not aware that any of the businesses have appeared before the city council seeking free money.


  2. Well-well-well a comment right from the horses mouth. I bet the Mayor isn’t happy about the Chamber president remarks.

    Looks like its time for the Mayor to call a back room summit to get his troops back in line.

    I hear her Board of Directors are not very happy with her downtown Evansville remarks.

  3. Wow, this letter is a public relations nightmare for the Mayor. I predict that Ms. Chamber President will be force to make a strong public statement supporting the downtown hotel in the very near future. She shall state that a new hotel will be the savor of downtown.

    • It is most refreshing to see someone who leads the chamber come right out and state that there is no leader and no plan for resurrecting the ghost town we call downtown Evansville. I was down there the Monday morning at about 10 and you could have shot a rifle from the Civic Center to the river and never hit a single person. I suspect this smart lady will be taken in some dark room for a jawboning by the machine soon. Don’t let them turn you into a drone Christy.

  4. That’ll be the last we hear from this lady.
    The mayor will get rid of her.
    Yet Billy Bolin, Rose Young, Chris Cooke, Ed Ziemer, and Jenny Collins all still have jobs.

  5. Why would this be the last we hear from Mrs. Gillenwater. The Mayor has no authority to hire and fire on this turf. I think we should hear MORE like this and from Mr. Dunn about poor business decisions being made by this administration.

  6. Christy Gillenwater:

    I do not think the answer for the downtown problem will come out of your organization. I believe the answer is to find out what the PUBLIC would like to see downtown and what the PUBLIC might be willing to pay for.

    It seems the Chamber’s approach is to push their agenda on the downtown and push the politicians to vote large sums of public money for those Chamber approved projects.

    Right now, the public seems to be in a mood of: Let private enterprise build what they will, as long as they keep their hands out of the public till.


  7. Ms Gillenwater,–The “Heart of a City is it’s People, and not a few square blocks of Real Estate. I have to say regardless, Old Downtown is irrelevant to me, my everyday life, and my pursuit of happiness. The continuing pouring out of Community resources to create some sort of Utopian Dream, while the rest of the City is ignored, and neglected, was a very real factor in my plan, and now realized plan, to move out of this crooked little town with it’s Elitist psychosis concerning Old Downtown.

  8. Well-well-well looks like we have a real leader speaking her mind. The truth shall sit Evansville free.

    Her Board better stand up for her and tell the Mayor to butt out of the Chambers business.

    • Teen Wolf would have never had the balls to stand up to Weinzapfel like that. Leaderless Ghost Town is still the best thing I have heard in a good long time.

  9. Once again the alarmists and exaggerators predominate in the peanut gallery.

    Ms. Gillenwater did not call Evansville’s downtown a “leaderless ghost town.” She simply said in her opening sentence that downtown “has slowly become somewhat of a ghost town,” and in her closing sentence that we need a leader to guide us along a timeline with a plan toward our goals. It’s clear from her comments that leader should head what Ms. Gillenwater suggests as “a committee, corporation, or authority dedicated to downtown development.” Good idea!

    So really what’s needed simply put is an updated downtown master plan with realistic goals and “a committee, corporation, or authority” with a leader at its helm dedicated to completing that master plan along a set timeline. That means we also will need less obstructionists dedicated to delaying progress at every turn. And far fewer Chicken Littles who bend words, insert innuendo, and imagine large chunks of the sky falling at every announcement of progress.

    • If one makes two sentences as follows they have clearly called downtown a leaderless ghost town. “Downtown Evansville is a ghost town. It needs a leader.” That is precisely what Ms. Gillenwater wrote. With a name like Reading Comprehension 101 you should understand that.

      • In my original comment, quoted Ms. Gillenwater precisely. You did not. Big difference.

        Beyond that, what you and others do when commenting local affairs is to read into news items, and in this case the Chamber’s spokesperson’s op ed, negativity and conspiracy unintended by the reporters and writers. Then you spew out the most ridiculous and unsubstantiated theory and base rumors.

        In the case of Ms. Gillenwater’s observations and comments, she did not implicate the current mayor as failing to lead downtown development. What she actually did is suggest a new master plan with a set timeline, and a committee, corporation, or authority to execute the plan.

        Now, the mayor should not head that corporation, committee, or authority, because a mayor represents and leads the entire community, not one small area of it. DMD and its director cannot be the committee, authority, and leader because DMD works to develop all neighborhoods. Same or similar applies to APC and GAGE. All those entities and their directors serve a larger picture and plan than just downtown.

        So, I take it that Ms. Gillenwater is promoting the idea that a separate committee, authority, or corporation should form, with it’s own leader or director, adopt a plan, set a timeline, and begin ghost busting our downtown.

        One thing Ms. Gillenwater neglected to observe in her article is that another factor that all communities with a vital downtown possess is a prosperous surrounding suburban area that feeds and supports its city center.

        • Trying to explain away a clear message by a lot of eloquent words does not blur the message. “Ghost Town” and “we need a leader” are the clear message she sent. She did also say “we need a plan” and that is the truth. One big reason for the “ghost town” status is indeed the lack of a plan. Why did Winnecke not spend some of that consultant money on a plan as opposed to keeping Weinzapfel’s unplanned pedal to the metal agenda roaring randomly through downtown?

          • There you go again, supposing negative stuff that just isn’t true.

            There is a downtown master plan. APC and DMD just needs to update it. Then, as Ms. Gillenwater suggests, there needs to be a set timeline for the goals stated in the master plan. And a committee or authority established to drive the plan to completion, with a leader sitting on that panel.

            Owensboro’s downtown development authority was mentioned as a model. Here you go, read this research a bit, and report back as to who “the leader” is. Right now I have better things to do, like take my grand daughter swimming.

            • I have seen it dude. It is from the Russ Lloyd administration. That makes it over 10 years old. There is no Arena on it, there is a baseball stadium on it, and Main Street is closed. It is not worth updating and was never followed once Weinzapfel took over. Christy was right, WE NEED A PLAN, WE NEED A TIMELINE, AND WE NEED A LEADER! Update my ear.

              By the way, with the insight she showed in her letter Christy may just be such a leader if the goons that run Evansville will let her do it. How many people have been through that revolving door called “Downtown Evansville Inc.” and “Keep Evansville Beautiful” in the last 10 years. You may want to talk to some of them about how thinking and progress are stifled by self interest.

              I bet you a lunch if Christy does not fall in line and dance with the dummies that she won’t stay 3 years.

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