The upcoming changes in store for downtown Cape Girardeau are putting the area on the path to revitalization. Several new businesses are slated to open in downtown Cape Girardeau in the coming months, including Minglewood Brewery and The Bar.
Marla Mills, executive director of Old Town Cape, thinks the creativity being engaged in the area with everything from the art to entrepreneurship is making it a place open to new ideas.
The Buckner and Mediterranean on Broadway locations have recently been purchased, and additional new places like Minglewood Brewery and Southeast Missouri State University’s student business incubator are set to open soon. The Bar location used during the filming of the feature film Gone Girl, will also open as a bar this October.
For Mills, there is more coming, just based on the fact that the last few years have shown a lot of progress in the downtown area, not only through the rehabilitation of the place but also the new activities like the Public Art Exhibition or the Art Festival of the River Campus.
One of the key aspects of revitalization is to use the buildings there for historic preservation, so it is a win-win for the area when new businesses are opening in old locations. But it’s the businesses and the people that make downtown successful, not just the buildings, and for Mills,
it also takes people to be downtown 24/7 to revive the area, with the development of additional housing.
Cape Girardeau has a very large downtown and there lots of opportunities for businesses to locate. But the downtown area still faces some challenges. As much as new businesses are coming in, tenants of the Marquette Tower, for example, are leaving and larger places like the Broadway and Esquire Theaters are still dilapidated. Interest for them comes and goes.
“There are people that are talking about it, people that are trying to develop plans, people that are looking at what might be able to be done,” Mills said.
Behind the scenes, there are no definite plans, but it’s not too late for those places, according to Mills.
“I think there is definitely hope for those buildings. Can they stand forever without someone doing anything to them? Obviously not, but it’s not past that time yet either. We still have an opportunity to work with someone who might be interested in developing them to save them,” Mills added.
She believes that the community should not give up on its buildings until it’s too late for them.
There is not one thing that will revitalize downtown as it is an ongoing process. It’s about creating an neighborhood and an environment that people want to be a part of. The recipe to revive downtown is to bring together activity, quality businesses and improve its image to make people live there.
“I think we’ve come a long way down the revitalization path and we are much further than we were a year, two years ago, and we are certainly more that we were 5 years ago and so we are definitely moving in the right direction,” Mills concluded.