Riverfront Development Key To City’s Future
By Mike A. Bozarth
St. Joseph has a strong asset, yet we hesitate to capitalize on it.
Our city was founded on the river largely for transportation. Two hundred years later, most of our populace only think of the river when it floods.
That’s unfortunate because it has such potential to boost our local economy.
In St. Joseph, riverfront development also means downtown redevelopment. City officials and many community leaders recognize this; which is why we included a new dock between downtown and Heritage Park in the last Capital Improvements Project sales tax.
Those promoting a marina/safe harbor point to the positive financial incentive it would have here.
The Sioux City chamber of commerce reports its marina gets multiple repeat visits. They have a 220 boat slip facility that each slip has a $7, 500 yearly financial impact for their city.
The indirect financial impact is estimated at $14, 000 per year.
A river advocate pointed out there are five marinas along the Iowa/Neb-raska stretch of the Missouri River. Yet we do not.
Everything Is In Place
City planners and local elected officials have built a great foundation to build upon.
We benefit from having the St. Joseph Regional Port Authority on the river and waiting for business.
We have a casino, showcase Heritage Park ballfields and the Remington Nature Center at the northern end of the city and a park and a trail that stretches along the river downtown.
I’d like to throw an in-your-face slap at those who have the gall to suggest our downtown is still dead. Our downtown is alive and thriving like no time we have seen since Urban Renewal.
There are negativists and wishers who long for the downtown of the 1950’s. Those days are gone. Department stores have gone to the suburbs and malls.
Downtown St. Joseph. What do we have?
Our crown jewel is an Entertain-ment District. We have the Civic Arena, Missouri Theater and arts offices, Joyce Raye Patterson Senior Center, the downtown library, the gazebo at Felix Street Square in Coleman Hawkins Park (we need to do something about that name), a pool hall, YMCA, YWCA, a coffee shop, a hotel, bed and breakfast, two museums, several fine restaurants and bars to apeal to nearly any taste.
There are several churches, including several in historical buildings and a number of clubs and organizations downtown.
Specialty Shoppes. There are art,
(Above: Sioux City, IA. marina)
clothing, health, beauty and a number of different specialty shoppes.
Education. Both Missouri Western State University and Northwest Missouri State University have a presence downtown, along with the St. Joseph School District offices and a library.
Factories. Hillyard Chemical and a wire rope factory downtown provide jobs that take people downtown.
Governmental. The Buchanan County Courthouse, State Office Building, Federal Building, Law Enforcement Center, St. Joseph School District offices, City Hall, Job Service, MO-KAN, St. Joseph Convention and Visitor’s Bureau are downtown.
Professional Services. Several banks and credit unions are located in the downtown area. A number of attorneys, computer services, doctors, dentists, accountants, printers, architects, plumbers, electricians, and more have their offices here.
Residential. In the last 5-10 years a major push was made to get people to move back downtown. It’s worked. We have a number of fine loft apartments, senior apartments, low-income apartments, historical homes, and still more planned at the old Heartland campus.
Retail. A number of fine retail stores are downtown, such as furniture, appliances, fast food, health food, one or three convenience stores (depending on the boundaries you use), and more.
Our downtown and riverfront go hand in hand. Both hold a lot of promise for St. Joseph. We should get behind what we have, rather than whimper about what we don’t.