Just last week, we learned that Owensboro was ranked as the #6 small metro in the United States for job growth in 2013 (up from #21 in 2012). And today, we celebrate another great accolade: According to Garner Economics, there were only 11 markets in the South that have seen wage growth in each of the past 24 months. Southern Business & Development used this metric to rank the top ten economic development markets in the South—and Owensboro made the list, joining metros like Winston-Salem, NC; Brownsville, TX; Jefferson, MS and many more. The article cites Owensboro as one of two Kentucky markets that have seen double-digit wage growth and rising wages each of the last 24 months. To read the entire breakdown, please click here.
Also, thank you to Adam Paris of AP Imagery for taking the awesome photograph of the new park!
This morning, the City of Owensboro joined developers Tim Turner and Mike Baker in announcing a new restaurant concept that will be constructed adjacent to the Riverfront Crossing in the spring of this year. The City of Owensboro and Turner-Baker LLC reached a preliminary agreement in December 2012 that involved the transfer of the parcel to the developer to construct the two-story, 4,120 square foot building. The project will involve an investment of $900,000 and will include two residential units.
Mayor Ron Payne commented, “The vision the Owensboro’s citizens had for their downtown revitalization very much continues to become a reality because of businesses like Fetta Specialty Pizza & Spirits. We are proud to welcome the new owners to the ranks of our fine downtown business culture.”
“We are very excited and humbled that the City of Owensboro has chosen Fetta Specialty Pizza & Sprits to be a part of the revitalization of Downtown Owensboro. This business model will be unique to Owensboro—our mission is not to be a new restaurant but rather a community destination for both citizens and visitors alike. Our proposed mixed-use building at Riverfront Crossing will include ample outdoor seating and residential spaces for downtown living. Our team is comprised of local individuals who have a passion for a producing a quality product and a hospitable environment,” said project developer Tim Turner.
Fetta Specialty Pizza & Spirits is the latest private project announced for Downtown Owensboro since the adoption of the Gateway Master Plan in 2009, which has resulted in over $90 million in private investment.
Excerpted from Urban Land.
Why do people—especially talented Creative Class people, who have lots of choices—opt to locate in certain places? What draws them to some places and not to others? Economists and social scientists have paid a great deal of attention to the location decisions of companies, but they have virtually ignored how people, especially creative people, make the same choices.
This question first began to vex me more than a decade ago. In search of answers, I began by simply asking people how they made their decisions about where to live and work. I started with my students and colleagues and then turned to friends and associates in other cities. Eventually, I began to ask virtually everyone I met. Ultimately, in the mid-2000s, I put the question at the heart of a major survey I conducted along with the Gallup Organization. The same answers came back time and again.
Place itself, I began to realize, was the key factor. So much so, that I coined a term—quality of place—to sum it up. I use the term in contrast with the more traditional concept of quality of life to cover the unique set of characteristics that define a place and make it attractive. Over time, my colleagues and I have come to refer to these characteristics as Territorial Assets, the fourth T of economic development after Technology, Talent, and Tolerance (what I have elsewhere called the 3Ts of Economic Growth).
Generally, one can think of quality of place as cutting across three key dimensions:
What’s going on: the vibrancy of the street life, café culture, arts, and music; the visible presence of people engaging in outdoor activities—altogether a lot of active, exciting, creative goings-ons.
Quality of place can be summed up as an interrelated set of experiences. Many, like those provided by the street-level scene, are dynamic and participatory. You can do more than be a spectator; you can become a part of the scene. But while the street buzz is there to be found if you want it, you can also retreat to your home or some other quiet place, chill out in an urban park, or even set out for the country.
Creative-minded people enjoy a mix of influences. They want to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, to trade views and spar over issues. A person’s circle of closest friends might not resemble the Rainbow Coalition—in fact, it usually doesn’t—but creatives want the rainbow to be available.
Authenticity—as in real buildings, real people, real history—is key. A place that’s full of chain stores, chain restaurants, and chain nightclubs is seen as inauthentic. Not only do those venues look pretty much the same everywhere, but they also offer the same experiences you could have anywhere.
Many members of the Creative Class want to have a hand in shaping their communities’ quality of place. Years ago, I attended a meeting of a downtown revitalization group in Providence, Rhode Island. One participant remarked, “My friends and I came to Providence because it already has the authenticity that we like—its established neighborhoods, historic architecture, and ethnic mix.” He went on to implore the group’s leaders to make those qualities the basis of their revitalization efforts and to do so in ways that actively harnessed his and his peers’ energy. Or as he aptly put it, “We want a place that’s not done.”
Quality of place does not occur automatically; it is an ongoing, dynamic process that engages a number of disparate aspects of a community. Like most good things, it is not altogether good: what looks like neighborhood revitalization from one perspective is gentrification from another. Rising housing values often go hand-in-hand with the displacement of long-term residents, a serious problem that demands a serious response.
Interestingly, a counterintuitive trend in current research suggests that gentrification is less disruptive of some neighborhoods than it has been given credit for. According to a study by Columbia University’s Lance Freeman intended for publication next year by the Journal of the American Planning Association, even when controlling for factors like age, race, and overcrowding, gentrifying neighborhoods retain poor households at a higher rate than do nongentrifying ones. Obviously, his study will be tested and challenged; but even if its statistical findings hold up, it bears remembering that gentrification imposes other tolls on long-term residents, even if they are able to remain in their homes.
Two often-overlooked factors that go into quality of place are the thickness of the mating market (only 48 percent of U.S. households include a married couple today) and, seemingly paradoxically, quasi-anonymity. Most people don’t want to live in tightly knit communities, with neighbors figuratively peering over back fences into their lives. Life in modern communities revolves around a set of looser ties that allows us to admit a greater variety of people and information into our lives.
An attractive place doesn’t have to be a big city, but it does have to be cosmopolitan—seething with the interplay of culture and ideas, where outsiders can quickly become insiders and anyone can find a peer group to be comfortable with and groups to be stimulated by. In her book Cosmopolitan Culture, Bonnie Menes Kahn says a great city has two hallmarks: tolerance for strangers and intolerance for mediocrity. These are precisely the qualities that appeal to members of the Creative Class—and they also happen to be qualities conducive to innovation, risk taking, and the formation of new businesses.
Some critics claim that jobs are the only amenities that truly matter. I point them to the Knight Soul of the Community study, which is an expanded version of the survey I began with Gallup years ago. “After interviewing close to 43,000 people in 26 communities over three years,” the Knight Foundation and Gallup concluded in 2011, “the study has found that three main qualities attach people to place: social offerings, such as entertainment venues and places to meet; openness (how welcoming a place is); and the area’s aesthetics (its physical beauty and green spaces).”
Some of my critics argue that my focus on quality of place, especially in regard to artistic scenes and diversity, is a trendy pose. Pointing to sprawling tech enclaves like the suburbs of northern Virginia, Silicon Valley, or the outer rings of Seattle, they make the point that the people who work in high-tech industries actually prefer traditional suburban lifestyles. My response is simple: all of those places are located within major metropolitan areas that are among the most diverse in the country. As colorless and bland as those suburbs might appear to some, they are constituent parts of a broader milieu. Silicon Valley, for example, can’t be understood without reference to the 1960s counterculture of the wider San Francisco Bay area—Esalen, the Grateful Dead, the Summer of Love, the Black Panthers, Harvey Milk, the Castro, and all. Had Silicon Valley not been receptive to offbeat longhairs like the young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, it could not have become what it is today.
What people want is not an either/or proposition. Successful places do not provide just one thing; they provide a range of quality-of-place options for different kinds of people at different stages in their lives. Great cities and metro areas are not monoliths. As Jane Jacobs said long ago, they are federations of neighborhoods.
Think about New York City and its environs. When they first move to New York, young people cluster in relatively funky places like the East Village, South Slope, Williamsburg, or Hoboken, where there are lots of other young people, the rent is more affordable, and roommate situations can be found. When they earn a little more, they move to the Upper West Side or maybe Fort Greene or Jackson Heights; earn a little more, and they can trade up to the West Village or the Upper East Side. Once marriage and children come along, some stay in the city while others relocate to bedroom communities in places like Westchester County, Connecticut, or the New Jersey suburbs. Later, when the kids are gone, some of these people buy a co-op overlooking Central Park or a duplex on the Upper East Side. Members of the Creative Class come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and lifestyles. To be truly successful, cities and regions must offer something for all of them.
Quality of place defines the very soul of a successful community; the factors that go into it—aesthetic, cultural, demographic—add up to the things that everyone wants in their communities. This is not to say that jobs, schools, and safety do not also matter. Of course they do. But those who frame the issue as an either/or proposition—jobs or scenes, quality of life or basic services—are offering a false choice. In my book Who’s Your City?, I likened what we want in our communities to psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Just as we want more from our lives than the mere basics of bodily subsistence, we also want more from our communities.
Quality of place is not a frill; it is a necessity.
At 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, community officials and top executives from Boardwalk Pipeline partners will break ground on the company’s new downtown location! This new office building will be located at approximately 600 West Second Street (the former site of Don Moore Chevrolet). Boardwalk Pipeline Partners (formerly known as Texas Gas Transmission) has been a corporate citizen in Owensboro for over 50 years, and we are honored that they have chosen Downtown Owensboro as the home for their new local offices!
This project kicks off a $44 million downtown investment project, which will also include a 130-Room Holiday Inn, retail, and riverfront condominiums. All are welcome to join our community leaders as they celebrate the beginning of this great project and this new beginning for Downtown Owensboro!
Owensboro placed 4th on Area Development’s Top 20 Southern Cities, with a 9th place ranking for its “Recession Busting” factors among the Top 25 Small Cities. Its three-year employment growth as a percentage of population was 23rd-best among all of the 100 Leading Locations.
Helping Owensboro prosper is a diversified economy, as evidenced by announcements from both the tobacco and financial sectors: Pinkerton Tobacco and U.S. Bank are investing in the MSA. Other major employers (in addition to the local health system) include a Unilever Foods pasta sauce plant, a Specialty Foods Group meat-processing plant, and transportation manufacturers Toyotetsu MidAmerica and Metalsa. Four institutions of higher education serve the area, and even as the nation trudged through recession, the community’s eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation was nurturing two dozen startups, winning $50 million in investments, and creating 70 jobs with pay averaging nearly $100,000.
The New York Times last year spotlighted Owenboro’s downtown revitalization; New Geography placed it 22nd among its “Best Small Cities for Job Growth in 2012,” and Bloomberg BusinessWeek called it the “state’s best place to raise kids.”
With the goal of showcasing Kentucky’s growing biotechnology industry on a global stage, Owensboro economic development officials and Judge Executive Al Mattingly joined Governor Steve Beshear at the 20th annual BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization) International Convention in Boston.
As the largest global event for the biotechnology industry, the annual convention attracts the biggest names in biotech, offers networking and business opportunities for Kentucky companies and research institutions, and provides insights on the trends impacting the industry.
“The Commonwealth is known worldwide for our robust bourbon industry, famous horse farms and championship basketball teams, but we’re also making great strides in emerging innovative and high-tech fields,” Gov. Beshear said. “Kentucky is home to some of the world’s foremost scientists and researchers, and the annual BIO convention allows us the opportunity to showcase our technologies and the advantages Kentucky offers to the industry.”
“Owensboro played a prominent role in the Kentucky Pavilion at the conference,” said Daviess County Judge Executive Al Mattingly. “We have invested in infrastructure, including the Centre for Business and Research and our working on a strategy to grow plant biotech and food companies in our region.”
As a result of Kentucky’s efforts to attract and cultivate homegrown innovative and high-tech companies, the Commonwealth now boasts more than 1,800 bioscience and life science companies with more than 100,000 people working in advanced research and development fields such as nutrigenomics and therapeutics to treat cancer, including those development in conjunction with Kentucky BioProcessing in Owensboro.
Kentucky supports innovators and high-tech entrepreneurs with the nation’s only comprehensive matching funds program for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.
“Kentucky is advancing every year in the areas of innovation and biotechnology,” said Gov. Beshear. “At BIO, we’ll send a strong message to the world that Kentucky is helping innovative companies move forward, making our world better for all of us with improved healthcare, more productive agriculture and a safer, cleaner environment.”
The convention attracts nearly 2,000 exhibitors and up to 20,000 attendees representing 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations from the United States and more than 60 other countries. Members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.
As you’ve heard us say time and time again on this site, we are so very fortunate in Owensboro to have visionary business leaders who believe in this community. Malcolm Bryant has been at the forefront of the Downtown Owensboro movement for decades, and we are so excited about his 151-room Waterfront Hampton Inn! The photos below outline the progress being made on the site, which will sit to the east of the new Convention Center.
The hotel, costing $20 million, will be 85 to 90 feet high. A restaurant will face the Ohio River and the Mitch McConnell Plaza. A ground floor retail store of 3,800 square feet that Bryant envisions as an place to buy products made only in Kentucky also will have a river view. A third of the hotel’s rooms will be suites, Bryant has said. When finished, it will be downtown’s tallest building and will match the number of stories of the former Executive Inn Rivermont’s central tower, the hotel it will replace.
The Hampton Inn & Suites will be connected to the $48.4 million convention center by a skyway. It will have an indoor swimming pool, spa and fitness center, three elevators, a 13,000-square-foot commons area and second-floor meeting rooms. Veterans Boulevard will run in front of the hotel between it and the Ohio River, with a large grassy area separating the hotel from the river’s edge. The south side of the hotel will face Second Street and resemble the front, with an exterior mixing stone, brick masonry, glass and balconies.
In February, Bryant said the hotel will have sections of “living roof,” covered with soil and plants, which conserve energy and keep storm water out of the drainage system. It is scheduled to open in the Winter of 2013…we can’t wait!
Excerpted from Atlantic Cities:
After years of neglect, decline, and abandonment, downtowns across the United States are poised to come back—and not just as redoubts for hipsters, artisanal food, indie music, and trendy boutiques, but as major shopping destinations.
The past decade has seen a shift to downtown living. For the first time in 20 years, the annual rate of growth in American cities and their immediate surroundings has surpassed that of exurbs, according to projections from the U.S. Census released in July 2011. This is not just the case in cities of talent and advantages, like New York, San Francisco, and Boston, but in older industrial cities like Cleveland and Detroit.
Downtowns have become veritable “entertainment machines,” in University of Chicago sociologist Terry Clark’s words, with an influx of restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs, and other venues catering to urban dwellers and suburbanites seeking something new and different.
But when it comes to shopping, most of the big department stores and luxury stores have remained in the malls. That is until now.
It’s amazing really how fast the shift from downtown shopping districts to suburban malls happened. Though people had been moving out to the suburbs since the 1950s and earlier, high-end shopping was something that required a trip back into the city until the early 1970s. I vividly remember the shopping expeditions our family made to Newark’s department stores – Bambergers, Hahne’s and Kresge’s – as a young boy in the 1960s. Then, as abruptly as if someone had pulled a switch, shoppers were driving out to places like Paramus and Menlo Park, where the malls were, and the downtown stores were all being shuttered.
But the signs of a great reversal are beginning to be seen today, as high-end shopping starts to shift back downtown. This goes far beyond the long-established retail corridors of great American cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston—the Madison and Michigan Avenues, the Union and Boylston Streets, and the Rodeo Drives that never went away. It is happening in up and coming places and could potentially spill over into the abandoned urban retail cores of America’s hardest-hit industrial cities, boarded up storefronts, litter-strewn lots and all.
Consider Miami’s Design District. A decade or so ago the idea of creating a high-end retail destination in the Buena Vista neighborhood would have seemed laughable. Just a mile or so north of the city’s financial and economic core, the 18 square blocks between North 36th Street and North 43rd Street, West First Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard was a somnolent district that almost no one but professional designers ever went to. Some of the surrounding neighborhoods were high-crime studies in blight, places to be driven through quickly with the doors locked. But starting in the late 1990s, Craig Robins, a founder of Design Miami and the lead developer at DACRA, began acquiring properties. Within a few years, the neighborhood had regained its status as a leading center for architectural and interior design, with more than 100 galleries and showrooms. Gradually, Robins was able to attract upscale design shops as well, such as Luminaire, Kartell, Capellini, Ligne Rosset, Vitra, and Jonathan Adler among others, and high-end fashion brands such as Marni, Christian Louboutin, and Tomas Maier.
Drawn by its great spaces and reasonable rents, a host of destination restaurants opened in the district—first Michaels Genuine Food and Drink in 2007, then Michelle Bernstein’s Sra Martinez, Harry’s Pizzeria, and Fratelli Lyon Driade, to name just a few.
Last year, Robins and his partners turned the corner when they were able to convince the Bernard Arnault’s LMVH group, whose luxury brands include Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Cartier, and Christian Dior, to leave the Miami area’s most established high-end suburban mall, the Shops at Bal Harbour, and relocate to the Design District as well.
Arnault and LMVH are trying out a new model for retail—embedding their brand destinations in the core of a rapidly reviving city. The first stores plan to open this summer.
Miami, of course, is much more of an international watering hole than most cities of its size; it has more than its share of the LMVH demographic. But retailers had served them out in the exclusive suburbs where they lived, or near their vacation condos and houses in and around South Beach. They hadn’t tried to entice them back into the old city.
Just a mile or two from Miami’s economic and financial hub and a couple of miles from South Beach, the Design District is actually much more centrally located than the Shops at Bal Harbour or the suburban malls in Coral Gables and Adventura. It’s easier to get to and there’s much more to do once you arrive.
DACRA recently announced plans to extend one of the Design District’s most architecturally appealing streets, Plumer’s Alley, all the way through the district, creating a pedestrian mall, anchored by department stores at either end. Instead of a food court, shoppers will be able to eat at some of Miami’s best restaurants. Instead of generic and manufactured charm, they can experience some of the most interesting architecture in the world, old and new, classic and cutting edge. It is a case study of how to create or recreate a real urban shopping experience.
Some might say that Miami’s success in luring high end shopping back into the inner city portends little if anything for harder-hit small and medium-sized cities that don’t have Miami’s global influx of wealthy part-time residents and tourists. But they haven’t considered just how bold LMVH’s experiment is. They are moving their shops out of one of the most affluent, if not the most affluent malls in the country, into an urban center which is essentially untested.
If cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Newark don’t have Miami’s glitz and glamour to bank on, they too are surrounded by wealthy suburbs, which are similarly well-supplied with high-end malls. Suburban Detroit has its Somerset Collection; Newark has the Mall at Short Hills in nearby Millburn. And, like Miami, those city’s downtowns have the infrastructure and the character to support the kind of development that DACRA brought to the Design District.
They are already attracting urban pioneers like the ones that moved to Miami’s Design District, its Wynwood Arts District, and adjacent neighborhoods when their revival was just beginning. This place-making and city-building phase of the process of urban regeneration engenders the increased safety and amenities that draw more and more people over time. Gilbert in Detroit and Mayor Cory Booker in Newark aren’t looking to glitz up their cities so much as they are to make them viable places where people can work, live, and play.
That’s much harder work and a much harder process than bringing high-end shopping back to urban centers that were set up for it – and that have the infrastructure and building stock in place to support it. The most critical difference is that downtown shoppers need not live in the core. Suburbanites already come to these downtowns to attend sporting events at the new Tigers stadium in downtown Detroit and the classic Jacobs Field in Cleveland. They dine in those cities’ destination eateries, like Slow’s BBQ in Detroit’s Corktown.
It might be hard to imagine soccer moms and patio men giving up their lawns and houses in Montclair and Summit to return to Newark, or Birmingham and Grosse Pointe to live in downtown Detroit, but one can easily imagine them driving into the city for the day to go shopping if there were places like the Design District for them to visit. Detroit, in fact, is already experimenting. Last year pop-up kiosks featuring top brands from the Somerset Collection, such as Neiman Marcus and Henri Bendel, opened temporarily in a downtown loft. It will happen again this summer, on an even larger scale. Detroit’s Eastern Market, a local food district with more than 250 independent vendors, has been in business since 1891 and regularly attracts tens of thousands of shoppers downtown every Saturday.
These new shopping districts, like Miami’s Design District or New York’s Soho for that matter, are not part of their city’s traditional downtown shopping districts, but newly remade urban spaces that typically have grown out of warehouse and industrial districts. Miami’s historic Flagler Street downtown corridor has seen decline common to many urban downtowns, turning into something of a ghost town at night, though it does have a Macy’s (the former Burdine’s), and it seems to be in the early phases of its own transformation with several new restaurants opening.
From where I sit, what’s happening in Miami is something of a bellwether, an unmistakable sign that the economic and commercial center of gravity is shifting away from the suburbs and back to the urban core. We are at a similar inflection point today to the one we experienced in the 1970s, when retail abruptly decamped to the suburbs. Only this time, the impetus is the other way around.
If Robins and Arnault’s experiment succeeds, and there’s every reason to believe it will, it has the potential to shift the whole paradigm of shopping. Other cities, and larger shopping center and retail developers—including those of a more populist bent than LMVH and DACRA—will surely take note. And when they do, the shift of shopping back to the urban core can happen quickly.
Another tipping point back toward urban downtowns may well be in the offing.
Southern Business & Development has listed Owensboro as one of 10 markets in South that are deploying technology like few others. Owensboro is listed alongside communities like Austin, TX; Chattanooga, TN; Orlando, FL and Savannah, GA!
The article highlights the Owensboro Centre for Business & Research—an 85-year-old, 37,000-square-feet former tobacco warehouse in Downtown Owensboro that has been converted into high-tech lab space for the use of tobacco as cures for cancer and other diseases. Additionally, the article applauds Owensboro for embracing a more diverse and holistic economic development strategy.
“Owensboro is strategically positioned to be a leader in plant-made pharmaceuticals and food science, and we needed a place where start-ups in the life science industry could grow and thrive,” said Madison Silvert, Executive Vice President of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation.
This morning, City leaders detailed a $44 million public/private partnership that will involve the construction of a new Holiday Inn (the second hotel adjacent to the new Convention/Events Center), a new corporate office for Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, riverfront condominiums, and eventually a new marina. This is great news for Owensboro and our community’s Downtown revitalization efforts!
From the Messenger Inquirer:
A four- to five-story Holiday Inn with up to 120 rooms overlooking the Ohio River, a condominium project and a marina are planned for the west end of the former Executive Inn property in downtown Owensboro, developers announced Friday during a press conference at City Hall.
The press conference was held to announce details of a $44 million downtown project involving public and private property. In addition to the Holiday Inn that will set immediately west of a planned convention center, developers confirmed that Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, parent company of Texas Gas Transmission, will move its Owensboro operations into a new two-story, 60,000-square-foot office building on the old Don Moore Chevrolet-Cadillac property at 600 W. Second St.
The third major piece of the development is the private condominium project with an as yet unknown number of residential units planned for the site where the former Executive Inn Racquet Club still stands, just west of the Holiday Inn site. Private developers are also interested in building an Ohio River marina near the condo complex. The hotel and condo complex will be built on former Executive Inn Rivermont land owned by the city that the private developers will purchase for $1.5 million, City Attorney Ed Ray said. The Boardwalk office building will be built on land the developers have already acquired.
“I call this Phase II of downtown revitalization,” an enthusiastic Mayor Ron Payne said. “It is amazing, fascinating that we’ve been able to pull this together as fast as we have. When this is finished, it will be the complete build-out of the Executive Inn property.”
The hotel, which will be the second new hotel announced for downtown, will be built and operated by local company LinGate (Linmar Hospitality Group and Gateway Lodging, Inc), company CEO and founder Glenn Higdon said. A mid-2014 opening is planned the hotel, Higdon said, with construction beginning about a year from now.