I rarely ever have the opportunity to spend time in the city during weekday working hours. I currently work outside the city, I leave home around 6:30am and return around 4:30pm. I miss out on the flurry of day-to-day city life. Last Friday, I took off from work for a little R&R with my wife, Melissa. Before we headed out for the day I had an appointment downtown in the AM. The amount of traffic and activity I found myself immersed in was incredible. People coming and going from the restaurants, office buildings, the post office.... Now, I've lived in Troy my entire life and have been apart of the downtown hustle and bustle before, but it had been awhile. For the most part my exposure to downtown Troy is nights, weekends, and special City sponsored events. The atmosphere is completely different between working hours and non-working hours. That morning there was an energy that can't be felt during off hours. Troy was alive. Store fronts were lite and the doors were open, people coming and going. Then I thought, "where do these people go between the hours of 4:30pm and 7am?" Are they all day zombies and at night they fade into the building walls? All joking aside, what will it take to have the streets busy with activity off-hours and on the weekends?
The City and Mayor Tutunjian deserve a great deal of credit for doing a great job of promoting the city and having the many municipal festivals we hold year round. Now, due to previous successes, we are experiencing major infrastructure improvements which include outside investment and private development. With the addition of Dinosaur BBQ and the revival of the Congress/Ferry Street corridor, new and unique attractions will soon be opening that include a much in demand movie theater and retail. Additionally, all the "little" projects such as the new street signals and improvements to the sidewalk corners improve the look, feel, and safety of downtown and bigger projects such as the redevelopment of Riverfront Park and the old city hall site will all add a certain something that has been missing over the recent years. Put all these projects together, with those downtown development projects that have been previously completed, and you have something special that will draw people to Troy and give them something to do, and will draw future developers and businesses because they will see that Troy is a city on the move and is a great place to live, work, and play.
Downtown has many positive things happening in and around it. It is our economic center and home to city, county, and some state governmental offices, but it also now has the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District to serve as its stewards moving into the future. A more consistent, busy city life will return, how much of it, I don't know, but for all of Troy to be successful we need a successful downtown. We are an urban city and our downtown is where the majority of our commerce will happen (tax dollars generated). Now that downtown has been stabilized and is growing positively now the attention needs to be heavily focused on our residential neighborhoods, especially areas in Lansingburgh, South Troy, and sections of Albia, and Sycaway. This will be the focus of my next blog... Neighborhood Rebirth.