Today I read an article in the Dickinson Press newspaper about the Downtown Dickinson Association Director Jennifer Strange, suddenly resigning. From the way this newspaper article was written and its focus, it appears that Jennifer Strange’s departure had a lot to do with the contested location of the proposed Downtown Dickinson Square project.
Downtown business owners, and members of the Downtown Dickinson Association, seem to be determined that they are going to revitalize, restore, renew, and reinvent downtown Dickinson. This would help the businesses that they own, and increase the value of the real estate that they own downtown, but it would also be beneficial to improving the image of the City of Dickinson, and it would provide the people in Dickinson with a better venue for concerts, entertainment, social gatherings, and cultural events.
The local architectural company JLG has already created and presented plans for a Downtown Square at the corner of Sims Avenue and Villard Street. Whether the downtown business owners and the Downtown Dickinson Association members will admit it or not, here are some of their reasons for this being their preferred location:
- There is already an existing small public park at this street corner.
- This location has often been used for downtown public concerts and events.
- There are two large public parking lots directly across Villard Street from this location, on either side of the Train Depot.
- This location is surrounded by historically significant buildings which are in good condition, such as the Train Depot, Brickhouse Grille, Masonic Lodge, and Post Office.
- This location is central to, and within short walking distance of the main downtown bars: Rock Bar, Blue 42, B2 Lounge, Bernie’s Esquire Club, and the Eagles Lodge.
- This location is one city block south of the new proposed Odyssey Theaters 8 Cinemaplex.
- And lastly, this Downtown Square project, would make Bernie and Paulette Marsh’s two spooky store front buildings, disappear.
The only source of contention in this plan for the Downtown Square, is the cost of Bernie and Paulette Marsh’s two store front buildings, and a third building owned by Roger and Rosie Decker. The owners of these three buildings, their asking prices, comes to a combined total of about $1.2 million, which is 20% to 25% over their assessed value. The cost of demolition, renovation, and construction is expected to be an additional $5 million.
The Mayor, and some other City Commissioners, earlier this week expressed concern and hesitation about the cost of the three buildings that would have to be acquired and demolished, their purchase price, and the ownership costs of the public facilities and vendor facilities that would replace them.
I can see that this situation could be extremely frustrating and maddening to downtown business owners, the Downtown Dickinson Association members, and the DDA Board of Directors, to come so far with the plans for a Downtown Square, in the optimum location, only to have haggling and threats of switching the location to a site “B”, which is no good and no one wants.
I don’t know why Kristie Schwartz or Sarah Trustem hasn’t said to the Mayor, “Scott, don’t look at this as paying too much for a building, think of it as getting rid of this building, and replacing it with something much better for Dickinson.”