These are great concepts, but there are no announced tenants and, at best, they will take some years to be developed. Until then, the key is to bring much more substantial and focused attention to the area. In years past, the leaders of redevelopment involved themselves with CCDC (Centre City Development Corp.) which has “sunsetted” along with redevelopment law. Downtown promoters like Ernie Hahn (who built Horton Plaza Shopping Center) and many others have come and gone.
The leadership has been there in the past, but it now seems that there is a perilous gap. In any event, this leadership has to come not just from the stalwarts such as the Downtown Partnership, but from the mayor and City Council.
City leadership in particular simply has to step up and do something about their own building, 202 C St., which not only is a civic embarrassment, but a deadweight taking down the entire hub of downtown.
They also have to get involved in cleaning up the streets. Dirty, smelly, unsafe, unfriendly: These are just some of the adjectives I would offer up to describe the C Street corridor and its environs.
No company like Amazon is going to take the risk without a civic partnership. Without that combination of effort, no amount of downtown boosterism is likely to stop this slippage from a once proud renaissance to a potential urban deadend.
Gary H. London is president of The London Group Realty Advisors, which provides real estate consulting and economic analysis. Visit: londongroup.com.