Creating a Better Downtown

There have been many groups over the years that have tried to wake up the sleepy downtown of St.Joseph, MO, but with little to no success. There are many questions that come to mind when the topic of revitalizing our downtown comes up: What makes the Better Block St. Joe group different from the others? What makes it stand out from the rest? And will their efforts be successful? What is the one thing that the current organization has that the others didn’t? The answer is simple…social media.

Better Block, also featured in this Tuningfork.TV article, is an initiative that did not originally start here in St. Joseph, but success in Texas has generated excitement here in our small city. Now, a number of local organizations are working together to  temporarily fill vacant storefronts in the 500 block of Felix. The purpose for this initiative? Demonstrating to local citizens in St. Joseph in hopes of proving that the downtown has great things to offer – if we develop it. Better Block St. Joe has a strong following on Facebook and Twitter, the two largest forms of free advertising in today’s fast paced world of social media marketing.

This is the first time that Better Block St. Joe has organized this event and there is always a learning curve when an event with this much potential is planned (rumor has it that there is already a second event being discussed). By using social media marketing to get the word out, hopefully it has made the residents of St. Joseph just curious enough to show up this weekend to support their efforts. People are likely wondering if this is the group that will succeed in bringing life back into the downtown area.

In an article from The Atlantic Cities, a local real-estate developer known as Public Interest Projects suggests there is solid proof that a city’s downtown can not only thrive when it is rebuilt properly, but it can be the financial answer to a city that is going broke. Joe Minicozzi, the new projects director at the real-estate firm in Asheville, believes that “Per-acre, our downtowns have the potential to generate so much more public wealth than low-density subdivisions or massive malls by the highway. And for all that revenue they bring in, downtowns cost considerably less to maintain in public services and infrastructure.”

For example, “Asheville has a Super Walmart that is not located in its downtown. Its tax value is $20 million, but it sits on 34 acres of land. This means that the Super Walmart yields about $6,500 an acre in property taxes, while a remodeled JCPenney downtown is worth $634,000 in tax revenue per acre.” (Add sales tax revenue, and the downtown property is still worth more than six times as much as the Walmart per acre.) That is a staggering statistic. Please take a minute to read the rest of the article (see the link above); it’s worth the read and it helps put things into perspective in a way that makes sense to those of us who don’t have a degree in economics.

Here at SJC Copywriting Solutions, we do what we can to support local businesses. The Better Block St. Joe event is just an extension of that support. We are going to be there because we want downtown St. Joseph to be a thriving, economically successful part of our city, and we hope you do too. Come out this Friday and Saturday to visualize the potential of our downtown. After the Apple Blossom parade, just go down to the 500 block of Felix to show your support.

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