This post is written by guest blogger, Kevin Taylor, Development & Resources Coordinator at Old Town Cape.
The recent work on Broadway due to the streetscape project has some wondering why projects like this one are so important to downtown Cape and historic communities in general. Since May is Historic Preservation month, there is no better time than the present to help you understand the science behind the project and how it has made downtown safer and more pedestrian friendly. And, as a result, exciting businesses have been enhanced because the area is now a destination that attracts more visitors.
Some view the change in parking along Broadway and the new crosswalks as a deterring factor, but both of these additions actually encourage drivers to slow down because the street is narrower and there is an increase in pedestrian traffic. As a bonus, the drivers have time to glance at the variety of businesses downtown as they are passing by and will perhaps make a pit stop.
Another feature that makes pedestrians feel safe is the bump-outs on each curb along Broadway. When driving down Broadway and turning onto Main Street, you will notice that the curb protrudes far away from the sidewalk. In the past if you were waiting outside of Renaissance for your significant other to finish her shopping, for example, you may have felt unsafe because the traffic was so close to you. That is no longer an issue because you are now tucked away from the traffic.
All of these features have also allowed Old Town Cape to finally do something that has been in the works for quite some time – bring more art to downtown Cape. In April, the Cape Girardeau Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit was launched with seven pieces placed along Broadway. These sculptures, whether you do or don’t love them, have brought many people downtown to take a peek. In fact, The Corner Grocery Store shared with me that they have had an increase in customers due to keeping track of those who stop in while checking out the art. If that doesn’t tell you something about the success of the changes along Broadway and downtown in general, I don’t know what will!
Creating a safer and more inviting atmosphere is definitely the key to helping businesses be successful and bringing more traffic downtown. Old Town Cape is already a place that people are excited to visit, so everything that we can do to make them feel more welcome will only help the area succeed. I’m confident that the same positive impact will be seen on Main Street in the near future after the upcoming improvements are completed. Then, we’ll have a thriving district no matter which street you are on!