Red Wing is set to receive roughly $1.8 million from the federal economic stimulus bill. So what should we do with it? I think we ought to invest in revitalizing our downtown, sending some love to Old West Main, and making it much easier and less expensive for new businesses and developers to get projects going and help build our community.
Looking out the window of my downtown office on West Third Street, it’s easy to see what needs to happen. The empty spaces above many of our historic buildings are ripe for redevelopment into apartments and condos, bringing more people, cash, and activity into downtown.
We can use those federal dollars to help provide incentives for growth. Let’s get rid of the barriers investors must negotiate to get a project going, and instead charge a simple flat fee for all the necessary permits. We can streamline the process, eliminate the hoop jumping, and expand good paying jobs, commerce, and tourism.
Downtown Red Wing needs a richer mix of retail and service businesses. Those of us of a certain age remember what Red Wing was like on a Friday night in the 1950s and ’60s.
In those days, going “downtown” was an event!
At a time when parking meters still existed (10 cents an hour), every space was full and the sidewalks were packed. The aisles were full at the Farmer’s Store, Woolworths, and Ben Franklin (remember the hot roasted peanuts!), along with businesses like Creola’s, Boxrude’s, Nybo’s Restaurant, Holms Drug Store, Webber Music, Sears, Josephson’s, Red Owl grocery, and, of course, Peter’s Palace of Sweets, just to name a few.
In short, we need to make downtown Red Wing, along with Old West Main, a destination again, and that federal money can help.
Now what do you think?
When “The Mayor is IN” sign is out at 327 Third St., feel free to stop in and share your ideas and opinions. Or email me anytime at email@example.com.
Remember, if it’s important to you, it’s important to me.
My column runs the first weekend of the month in the RE. Tune in to KCUE Radio 1250 at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of every month for “A Conversation With Mike.” It’s a live interview where you ask the questions. And I’ll also share the topics that were discussed, and what will be discussed, at the City Council meetings the second and fourth Monday of each month.