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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Now . . . Some Good News

I wanted to focus this post on a few pieces of good news related to Fort Thomas lately:

1. Being a newer transplant to Fort Thomas I didn't realize that Jeff Walz was a Fort Thomas kid. For those of you less sports inclined, he is the coach of the lady Cardinals (U of L) who took the team on a somewhat cinderella trip to the national championship game. Despite the fact that I am a UK grad, had a known he was from Fort Thomas I would have almost been persuaded to cheer for them. Almost.

2. Anyone seen the progress being made at the Newport Pavilion lately? The large mound of dirt near the southbound Grand Ave exit is almost leveled. The Kroger building continues to make significant progress. The cash infusion provided by BofA seems to be sustaining the development and lets hope for continued progress.

3. Lastly, how exciting that we could be a couple of short months away from the sell of the officers' houses in Tower Park? We get this news yesterday that the last hurdle has apparently been cleared and the city and VA has agreed on how to manage the lead paint issue. The city will abate the asbestos and lead paint and reduce the purchase price by the appropriate amount. The last assessed value of the properties was in 2007 at $2.48 million for the 10 structures or an average of $248,000. Given the continued deterioration and falling home prices the bids submitted should be at least $215,000 but it will probably depend on how aggressive the 300 people on the list are interested in getting.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Midway Streetscape

Another article in the Community Recorder today on Council moving forward with the street scape changes in the Midway. Some observations:

1. The article contains comments about Council moving forward despite a majority disagreeing with the plan. Does this sound familiar to anyone else out there? (can you say deer hunt?) The following is a quote from the article:

"John Coffman of Coffman's Realty, who attended the hearing, said while he appreciates the chance for property owners to speak their minds, he finds it interesting that the council decided to move forward with the project even after the majority of property owners at the hearing were against it."

2. Most business owners feel that the street scape is not the issue and the article mentions parking as the primary concern

I believe it is admirable that the city is working to create a more beautiful area - look at the benefits in the central business district. Despite the how much nicer it may look, all the investment there has done nothing to bring new businesses to the area. We have added the Mustard Seed but we lost Fort Thomas Wine and Spirits, Ciani's, Warners, and Gallery Zaum. That is not a good return on investment.

There must be other reasons why businesses are not thriving beyond street scapes. This could include the absentee, HUD housing that exists next door to the Midway Cafe that attracts the wrong kind of residents to a key retail area. This also could include parking, or lack of support for business owners such as being hard to work with for permits, inspections,

I hope that the quote:
Martin said outside the project, the city staff plans to continue working to develop parking in the area, which may require asking council for funds to buy some private property to turn into a parking lot.

indicates that they will look seriously at purchasing the old store fronts next to the Midway so more parking is provided and at the same time removes blight.