Now that property owners have for now killed plans to spruce up Wenatchee’s aging downtown, one has to wonder about the long-term viability of the community’s historic business district.
The issue has exposed deep issues of mistrust between some property owners and the city that need to be resolved, and the sooner the better.
Fortunately, the property owners have come together and hope to develop an alternate plan that has widespread support that will beautify the core of the city, according to Mike Salmon, who owns property in the district.
That would be a good outcome. I can think of nothing worse than having the rift prevent needed investment from taking place and allowing downtown to deteriorate over time. It’s been more than two decades since serious investment was made in the downtown core and it’s showing its age. With plans already underway to repave Wenatchee Avenue in 2014, it seemed like an obvious opportunity take advantage of the torn-up streets to make changes that would make it more attractive and inviting for shoppers. The viability of businesses depend on attracting customers, after all.
It bears noting that Pybus Public Market has set a new standard for customer experience in the valley. There’s a reason why people are flocking to the place — it’s a cool facility with interesting shops and an inviting atmosphere. While the market doesn’t pose a particular threat to downtown businesses at the present time, it could in the future if downtown languishes. As the area around Pybus develops, businesses may find opportunities to move closer to the market at the expense of the downtown core.
Investing in a facelift could help attract more shoppers who are now headed to Pybus Market to stop and take advantage of what downtown Wenatchee has to offer. With appropriate investment, downtown and Pybus could work together and help each other over the long term and ensure the viability of the core business district.
The most important thing that needs to be done now is finding a way to rebuild the trust that has been lost between some property owners and the city. Until those issues are effectively aired and dealt with, it’s hard to imagine that meaningful progress can be made. Sitting back and letting this rocky relationship continue would be a grave mistake and a disservice to the community. This presents an opportunity to clear the air, find common ground and begin forging a relationship that will lead to a vibrant downtown core for years to come.
Who’s going to step forward to take the important first step?