The growing number of empty retail buildings on St. Louis Street are a challenge for the Pacific Partnership, a civic organization with the primary goal of promoting downtown, according to Stephen Flannery III, Partnership president.
With seven outdoor events in old town under its belt, the Partnership is making plans for the final 2017 event and looking ahead to 2018.
Organization directors met at Little Ireland Coffee Shop Nov. 2 to recap the successful Halloween Monsterfest, the car show, a trio of free concerts on the Plaza, Heritage Day and the rodeo.
They also met to finalize plans for the last 2017 event, Christmas on the Plaza, which has grown into a huge community holiday celebration.
The Partnership is focused on promoting downtown as a destination for visitors, businesses, residents, developers and local farmers by hosting a farmers’ market.
The organization does this by organizing public events that showcase downtown merchants, music and food.
“People who leave Pacific after the car show can’t help but go home with a positive view of the city,” Flannery said.
The organization lives up to its name by partnering with the Chamber of Commerce for the Main Street grant; the city to organize and promote the rodeo; and the Lions Club to organize and host Monsterfest.
“We also get support from the Eagles and the American Legion,” Flannery said.
The recent changes in downtown won’t change the scope of the successful events that bring more than 30,000 visitors a years to downtown. But organization leaders said they will step up efforts to work with the Missouri Main Street Connection and city leaders.
“Our mission is to promote downtown as a social and cultural gathering place,” Flannery said. “We feel that we are meeting that objective with the number of people who attend outdoor events. Our next goal is to meet our mission to improve the downtown economy.”
As recipient of the Missouri Main Street Connection grant, Flannery said Partnership members believe they are in a position to add to the downtown economic vitality.
“We’ll begin with a strength, weakness, opportunity and threats (SWOT) analysis,” Flannery said. “This will help us evaluate how our events mesh with MMSC ideas.”
The MMSC grant can serve as a catalyst to encourage developers to look at the historic main street, he said.
“We want people to see that Pacific is a place to do business and a great place to live,” Flannery said.
City leaders too can enact legislation to make development here attractive for businesses, he said, with things like tax credits and special zoning districts.
“We’re hoping for changes that will help it make sense to develop a property, open a store or restaurant,” Flannery said.
Downtown Pacific has an advantage over many city historic districts with run-down buildings and crumbling streets. Many buildings have been restored.
“We hope to see a historic downtown zoning district to help us implement the MMSC concept,” Flannery said. “It’s hard to judge 1870s buildings with 2017 building codes. We need to find ways to be mindful of the old buildings.”
For Pacific — SM