UPDATED: This article was updated Aug. 16 to reflect the updated timing of Council action.
City of Cape Girardeau staff and partners hope to keep up the momentum in downtown Cape by updating the Downtown Strategic Plan. Following a period of blegh many years ago, the downtown is now very much alive with shopping and entertainment options. Beautiful streetscaping along Broadway was added in partnership with the new casino, and plans to renovate downtown sidewalks are forthcoming.
“It doesn’t take much of a drive downtown to see the dramatic changes that have taken place,” said City Council Ward 6 Representative Wayne Bowen at a recent meeting. Bowen laughed as he continued, “Not too long ago we would keep people away from the downtown, lest they be turned off from our city, and now it is a positive point of attraction.”
Bowen credited much of that success to Old Town Cape (OTC) as he summarized OTC’s annual report to the Council. OTC won a coveted Great American Main Street Award, among many other accomplishments, in recent years.
“It’s really all the hard work of business owners and residents,” said Old Town Cape Executive Director Marla Mills. “We’re proud of our many partnerships with the City, Chamber, University and downtown folks that are helping us create a place where people want to be!”
Many of the 2009 Downtown Strategic Plan goals are completed or in-progress, such as the development of a downtown community improvement district and installing wayfinding signage. The plan started with the State of Missouri’s DREAM Initiative. As a DREAM Community, Cape Girardeau received over $2.5 million in grants. Grant funds have supported downtown programs ranging from building renovations and street improvements to community events.
The goal of the next Downtown Strategic Plan Update is to continue the momentum and build off the previous successes of the City’s 2009 Downtown Strategic Plan. On May 20, 2016, City staff issued a Request for Qualifications and solicited 10 planning firms directly. The City received four proposals from interested consulting firms. The Downtown Development Team comprised of the Old Town Cape Executive Director Marla Mills, Cape Area Chamber President John Mehner, Southeast Missouri State University Historic Preservation Program Coordinator Steve Hoffman, and City Development Services Director Alex McElroy, reviewed the proposals and is recommending ARCTURIS as the preferred consultant for this project.
The City Council will vote whether to authorize the City Manager to contract with ARCTURIS for planning and consulting services at the a September Council meeting. The City has committed up to $50,000 of revenue from the City’s Casino Revenue – Riverfront Development Fund to underwrite the strategic planning process. Complementing this funding is an additional $16,800 which was received through the National Association of Realtors Housing Opportunity Grant Program to be used to fund a residential housing study in the downtown area.
- Propose areas for residential infill development including single family attached, single family detached, and multifamily developments
- Propose existing buildings for conversion to residential use, including upper floor rehabilitation into residential
Overall plan production will take approximately six months with plan adoption anticipated in February 2017.