(Photo by Leonna Heuring, Staff)
SIKESTON -- As one DREAM official put it, revitalizing Downtown Sikeston is a matter of creating curb appeal -- but on a civic scale.
On Thursday, city staff members, Downtown Sikeston merchants, property owners, Historic Midtown Development Group members and representatives from Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce, Sikeston Public Library and Sikeston Depot gathered for a special meeting to discuss the Downtown Revitalization Economic Assistance for Missouri Initiative, or DREAM, at City Hall.
"This was the first time we were able to bring all the major players together," said Linda Lowes, director of governmental services.
In August 2007, Sikeston was named one of the Department of Economics' DREAM cities. DREAM is a three-year study to revitalize the downtown area -- not only aesthetically but also to increase competition among area businesses.
Since January, Sikeston DREAM initiative officials have conducted detailed research of the downtown area. The findings led to the rendering of conceptual designs, which were presented Thursday.
"We're very excited about this," Lowes said. "Of course, it's just one part of the DREAM."
Russ Volmert, project manager of PGAV Urban Consulting of St. Louis, presented the group with Sikeston DREAM conceptual renderings of Front Street and Kingshighway, Legion Square, Sikeston Depot Commons and gateway entrance structures to the downtown area.
"We are looking for solutions that bring character of the area back and that provides something that ties to the community so people want to visit," Volmert said.
Among conceptual suggestions for making structures along Front Street and Kingshighway more appealing to visitors were to use more compatible paint colors; streetscapes of lights, trees and site furnishings; restoring windows; removing frame and metal canopies; and lots more.
"When you think of Sikeston, you want an image to come to mind," Volmert said. "You want Sikeston to be somewhere to go when something special happens like a promotion or engagement -- and people think, 'Let's drive to Sikeston to celebrate.'"
Four ideas for redesigning Legion Square were presented and each included variations of a gazebo/band stand, fountain and new flagpole area.
Volmert spoke about the importance of the city establishing a gateway entrance into Downtown Sikeston, off Malone Avenue at either Kingshighway or New Madrid streets.
"You need to establish a front door, something that gives the statement: 'You've arrived to Downtown Sikeston," Volmert said.
Among the three renderings presented for the "gateway" element were structures containing columns, a magnolia and cotton bolls.
"Play up the agrarian heritage," Volmert said.
While the Sikeston Depot is a major asset to the community, it could also be more "people friendly," Volmert said.
"It already functions as a community space, but it could be so much more," Volmert said. "This is all about curb appeal but on a civic scale."
In two concept proposals for the Depot Commons, more "green space" was suggested.
"It's pavement overkill at the Depot," said John Brancaglione, vice president of PGAV Urban Consulting, who was also present at Thursday's meeting.
Volmert said it's important to remember these renderings are concepts to create ideas; they are not the actual designs.
However, feedback from these renderings will be used to create the final streetscape plan, which will be presented by PGAV during a public meeting next month. Lowes said the date for the meeting hasn't yet been finalized.
"We want to go from a concept to a more refined master plan ... and the city can go from there and hopefully get it built by 2010 before the sesquicentennial," Volmert said.
In the meantime, Lowes encouraged residents, business owners and property owners to stop by City Hall over the next two weeks to view the renderings and give their input on the design concepts.