Community Development News

Community Development in review
Published: Monday, April 21, 2014
By: Mark Mehmert

While Community Development is generally a "looking forward" type of activity, each year we take time to look back at our work over the past year to mark our progress. 

Since the inception of the Community Development programs in 2006, the Chamber has used several measures to determine the performance of the program's efforts.  One of those measures is total appraised property values in the Old Town area.  As a quick refresher, Old Town approximate boundaries are the Missouri River on the north, Stadium Drive on the south, Clark Avenue on the east and Dix Road on the west. 

In 2013, the total appraised values in the Old Town area reached $566.4 million. 

Residential appraised values in 2013 were $312.4 million, up from $295 million in 2007, which is a 5.9% increase over the period.  Meanwhile, commercial appraised values were $203.9 in 2013, up from $191 million in 2007, which is a 6.8% increase over the period.  These results indicate conditions are improving in the area. 

"Old Town continues to improve, but there is still much work to do", noted Old Town Redevelopment Company President Phil Freeman.  "We are encouraged by new business in Old Munichburg such as Welcome Inn Again, Hoxton Tavern and Grill, and Wilson's Yoga Studio.  The new green space on Mulberry Street is also a sign of dramatic improvement.  The East Side of Jefferson City has also seen some significant improvements with the new veteran's memorial at Freedom Corner and the Shrunken Head on Ash Street." 

Old Town is working to become a destination again, and it's using events and festivals to help do so.  Community celebrations such as Blues, Blues and Brats and Oktoberfest in Old Munichburg have reminded citizens of the area as a distinct neighborhood.  Likewise, Downtown has leveraged its Living Windows, growing Thursday Night Live! and several other events into must-experience entertainment.  During Salute to America over the Independence Day holiday, Jefferson City’s population swells dramatically. 

Advancements in2013 were not limited to the Old Town area.  Another measure for the Community Development program is storefront occupancy in the core of Jefferson City's downtown.  In 2006, the downtown core had an estimated 80% storefront occupancy rate. 

Through the combined efforts of the City of Jefferson, Cole County, Downtown Jefferson City, Inc., local financial institutions, investors, property owners, entrepreneurs, and the Chamber, 2013 saw that figure settle at 93%.  New businesses like SzeChuan Restaurant, I Love This Look and the Copper Tree Exchange either were established or moved into the Downtown area. 

"We decided that for our business, Downtown Jefferson City was a natural fit", mused Copper Tree Exchange co-owner Greg Bemboom.  "We thought our business model would benefit from the foot traffic downtown, and that has definitely turned out to be the case." 

Greg liked the location so much, he purchased the already-occupied building.  "We're in it for the long haul, so purchasing the building made the most sense to us.  We like the area a lot."

"It's a lot of work, but we have some wonderful volunteers who are dedicated to the success of the Downtown area", offered Downtown Jefferson City Association President (and Chamber Board member) Stephanie Bell.  "I think businesses recognize we're working hard to improve our beautiful Downtown."

212 Madison St. (River City Florist) and 130 East High St. (Yanis Coffee Zone) saw facade improvements and continued the trend toward more residential space in the Downtown area.  Since 2006, residential assessed valuation in the Downtown core has increased a whopping 250%. 

The Chamber's Cole County Communities Committee also had an excellent year, with a nearly full house at the Chamber Prayer Breakfast in November of 2013.  Highlights for the year included a group tour of the Cole County Emergency Management facility and the Jefferson City Airport.  They also heard reports on the progress made by the Cole County Public Works staff and reviewed the proposed zoning process in Cole County. 

Overall, 2013 saw continued progress in Community Development terms.  As we implement our strategic plan based on Talent, Growth, Membership and Place focus areas, we are expecting an even better 2014. 

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