THE CAPTAIN'S CORNER

IT`S NOT DEATH VALLEY
ArticleID: 71
Date: 11/15/2000
Written By: Captain Jackson

IT`S NOT DEATH VALLEY
by Captain Jackson

Believe it or not, it`s not surrounded by roadblocks, tumbleweeds don`t roll through it and people actually live and work there. No, I`m not describing Death Valley. I`m talking about Downtown Jackson. If you haven`t been downtown in a while you`ll be very surprised. It`s actually become quite a lively place.

Sometimes referred to as the Emerald City, the downtown area has taken on a special quality unique to a community as large as Jackson`s. And unlike the malls, it has atmosphere due to many of the downtown merchants.

The river cap has been removed and thanks in part to John Kuhl of Kuhl`s Market, a larger Farmers Market has been built with a spectacular view of the area. Thanks to contributions, the Michigan Theatre sports a new Marquee and boasts a beautiful venue for both new movies and live shows. Investors have taken risks to open the Riverwalk Hotel, and though on paper it appears to be thousands of dollars in debt, their belief in Jackson has earned them deadline extensions from the city. Then there is Arnie`s, which opened Monday. While I don`t have reliable figures, according to a story by Bradley Flory in the Jackson Citizen Patriot, "...renovations would cost more than $1 million." Anyone with such insight as Arnie can see the potential of this neighborhood. And then there`s the half dozen or so new businesses which seem to be doing well in our picturesque downtown location as well.

At one point Emerald City`s downfall seemed to be its access. Another complaint seems to be the availability of parking. Granted, one must venture a couple of blocks off the "Beaten Trail". Would you rather have a "Main Thoroughfare" running through such a center of commerce and government?

And what of the parking? Like any mall, seldom does one find a parking space directly in front of the business they wish to visit. I know I have never had a problem finding one within a block of my destination, even during some of the many downtown events.

And what of the downtown events? The latest, Trunk or Treat, did get some bad press. But believe me, nobody expected 5000 plus people, many of whom appeared even before the events start time. Everyone involved was overwhelmed. Rocky Curl, Station Manager of the now defunct WJKN once said to me, "I have discovered through my years of being in the media that the masses appreciate creative ideas but rarely compliment.......Although, present a negative idea and the phone rings off the hook."

Rocky`s statement is a perfect example of the events put on by the Downtown Development Authority. Personally, I have attended over twenty this past summer alone, and have always been greeted by local citizens who enjoy participating in Downtown City functions. And at the head of this marvelous Pro-Downtown organization is Kathleen Eriksen, Executive Director.

"The tremendous turnout proves there is a high demand for free downtown activities," Eriksen said in a recent Voice of the People letter. "Many generous individuals, organizations and city departments donated time, money and candy. Without the financial and in-kind contributions of others, these year-round events would not be possible."

How true. Unfortunately, because of the withdrawal of a corporate sponsor, it looks as though this year`s "Eve on the Ave" may have to be canceled.

Not to worry though. With all the open spots and activities going on in our wonderful Emerald City, before we know it, the DDA will once again be presenting free events.

Copyright 2000, CFC


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