KHOU: Downtown or ghost town?

KHOU-11's Jeremy Desel ran a story yesterday that will probably get him a scolding phone call or two from the usual downtown booster types. Here are some choice excerpts:

There was a time Main Street downtown was the heartbeat of the city.

"That's what this was. This was the center of it. This is where you went,” said Patrick Teague.

A thriving entertainment district packed.

Now it is barely beating.

In place of the pulsing beats and flashing lights are locked doors and eviction notices.

Sign after sign on windows read, “For Lease.”

Main at Prairie four years ago was the busiest part of the action.

Now every space on the block is vacant. And the next block over.

Since the current administration effectively ceded downtown to an aggressive, pushy homeless population, downtown became a much less attractive place for people to go. And so people have apparently stopped going. That may not be the only reason, but it's probably part of it. Indeed, my significant other got takeout pizza from Frank's (Travis and Prairie, beside Cabo) recently, and was accosted by two separate homeless people demanding money, even though the car was parked just outside the door!

Sorry, but that atmosphere really isn't conducive to, "Wow, this is great, I think I'll stroll around and spend a day here!"

Of course, there's the Pollyanna view:

Angie Bertinot is with the Downtown District.

"You look around here and you see a lot of empty space and some people say that is scary, but to us we see it as an opportunity,” she said.

An area with a huge concentration of nightclubs and not much else may make great nightlife, but not a great neighborhood.

"Quite frankly we are really looking at repositioning this entire part of downtown,” said Bertinot.

There’s hope a unified vision can attract a mix of high-end restaurant and retail. Only if the building owners are patient enough to wait.

Why would any business want to make a major investment in an area where vagrants are allowed to accost customers with impunity? (But hey, at least MayorWhiteChiefHurttChiefLambert have made downtown safe from renegade jaywalkers!)

It's a shame, because downtown had become kind of interesting for a brief period. Now, it resembles so much of the property along the light rail line -- abandoned, boarded up, decrepit.

PREVIOUSLY: Nothing says world-class like parking garages and eau de urine, KTRK CrimeTracker: There's some percentage of crime downtown, we think.

PHOTOS: Here's a Flickr set of photos I took around downtown yesterday.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 05/12/07 01:29 PM | Print |

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