Meet You on Main Street
Cities across the country are reversing downtown decay--building convention centers and creating new entertainment districts for groups to enjoy.
Downtown Kansas City, MO looked like a lot of blighted cities around the country. Downtown areas during daytime hours bustled with office workers, but as the sun set, the nine-to-fivers fled to the suburbs, and grandiose Art Deco towers like the Power and Light Building loomed silent as tombs over empty streets.
The President Hotel, where Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman entertained crowds in the Drum Room bar, closed in 1980 and stood vacant for 25 years. Just 10,000 residents lived in the city’s central business district in 2000, in 2008 more than 20,000 residents called downtown home, and thousands of additional condos are under construction. The President Hotel reopened in 2005 as a Hilton property, and its 213 well-appointed rooms are once again hosts to visiting dignitaries.
The estimated $4.5 billion development, Kansas City Power and Light District, brought downtown Kansas City back---like many renewed urban areas coast to coast. From Augusta, GA, to Baltimore, MD, developers, like the Cordish Company, in mid-sized cities are investing in new and expanded convention venues, entertainment districts, and other delights to bring crowds back to Main Street.
In Kansas City, in addition to a convention center expansion that opened last year in the Power and Light District, a new $405 million performing arts center is scheduled to open in 2010.
On the East Coast, Baltimore began its downtown reawakening in the 1970s and has ramped up its vision of a walkable, safe urban core over the past several years.
Located within blocks of the world famous Inner Harbor is the newly expanded convention center and, connected via skybridge, the brand-new Hilton Baltimore 757 rooms. The 707-room Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel just completed a $30 million renovation.
Power Plant Live!, a collection of bars, clubs, and restaurants with a open plaza where they host several public events and free concerts is located just a couple blocks from the Inner Harbor. The district attracts over three million people a year. “Entertainment destination” models like Power Plant Live!, is being adopted by other cities like Kansas City, where the $850 million Power and Light District opened last year.