Official blog of Old Town Cape in Cape Girardeau, MO

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New Year, New Office
This announcement first appeared in The Downtown Detail, Old Town Cape, Inc.'s quarterly stakeholder newsletter in the fall of 2016.

     We’ve been watching and waiting at the door for glimpses of the inside of the building as construction crews filtered in and out of the Marquette, preparing each floor for new occupants. The Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce and Cape Girardeau Convention & Visitors Bureau are newly settled into the freshly renovated historic building downtown with Codefi and several other forward-thinking businesses prepared to follow suit over the coming months. Our anticipation grows as announcement after announcement is made about a new neighbor filling another space at what’s come to be called the Marquette Tech District.
     While our storefront window has offered us a great view of the steady traffic of building material deliveries and moving trucks, heightening our excitement about the projects happening down the street, we have decided that it’s time to make a move that aligns with our mission, reflects the progress we have made as an organization and sets us up for future success. We are excited to announce that our office will be relocating to the fourth floor of the Marquette Tower. In 2006 when our organization last relocated, moving far from what was then considered “downtown” was a risk, but our board of directors and small staff of one had big dreams of incorporating the Broadway Corridor as a thriving entryway to the rest of the district.


Executive Director Marla Mills paints the "new" office at 418 Broadway circa 2006

     Today, the perception of what is “downtown” has expanded along with the size of our staff as we agree to tackle more projects. Our office has served us well, housing four staff, interns and work studies in a space built for one and serving as the meeting space for many roundtable discussions about advancing downtown Cape Girardeau through historic preservation, economic development, safety, beautification and vibrancy initiatives. After ten years at 418 Broadway, keeping the momentum means moving.
     The organization's new location lends itself to increased collaboration among other entities inhabiting the property and gives us increased visibility to both new innovative entrepreneurs and established businesses getting started in the area and looking to move downtown. Moving off street-level also makes way for a new business to occupy what we expect to be a highly in-demand retail storefront in coming years as the wave of decreased vacancy on Broadway advances. Plans for the new office space outline workspaces for staff that will escalate productivity, allowing for more goals to be accomplished.


The new office's common space under construction in the Marquette Tower in November 2016

     We want to thank the Rust family for their ongoing support of our organization and for their generosity and diligence as our landlords over the past decade at 418 Broadway.
     Our anticipated move date is tentatively set for early December 2016 and we are eager to share the before and after photos of our new space in early 2017!
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Outdoor Dining in Downtown Cape

Sometimes a day is just too perfect to let one minute of it slip away indoors. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that too much in Downtown Cape Girardeau, especially when it comes to meal time! We’ve compiled a list of downtown eats with outdoor seating so you can enjoy your day to the fullest!

Imo’s Pizza

Enjoy some delicious, traditional Imo’s style pizza on the patio next to the restaurant. It’s a perfect spot for Saturday tailgates at Houck Stadium or a well-deserved lunch break.

El Sol

This covered patio that’s accessible only from inside El Sol offers privacy along with the leisure of an outdoor meal. There are few problems that a beautiful day and an ice-cold margarita can’t fix!

Keller's

While it's not technically in the downtown district, we can't overlook the awesome view of downtown you get when you enjoy drinks and appetizers on the balcony at Keller's at the Isle Casino Cape Girardeau. Plus, it's hard to beat the fireside view of the Mississippi!

Burritoville

Did someone say dirty fries and sunshine? Enjoy both on Burrito-Ville’s pet-friendly patio right at their front doors!



Stevie’s Steakburgers

Dining-in at Stevie’s is exclusively outdoors, and we’re totally fine with that! Relax on one of the many patio tables and enjoy the heart of Downtown Cape around you.



Katy O’Ferrells

The small circular patio tables outside of the restaurant are perfect for grabbing a drink or two after a long day of work. Maybe throw in some planks and chips as well? We won’t judge.

Dynamite Coffee

Tucked in tight on Independence, Dynamite Coffee sets out a cozy sidewalk seating arrangement on nice days. Take your seasonal morning brew to the streets!

Port Cape Girardeau

So you can't take your pig chips outside, but why not end (or start)  your meal by enjoying an ice cream cone on the river? The walk-up ice cream window is perfect for a treat while enjoying the downtown scenery. 

Bella Italia

Get a small slice of Little Italy out on the covered patio at Bella Italia. Fresh air, good wine and delicious pasta, what could be better?

Minglewood Brewery

Ever wondered where that iron gate on Spanish Street leads? It's the newly opened outdoor eating space for enjoying locally brewed beer and awesome pizza. 

Cup ‘N’ Cork

When we say check out The Coffee Grounds, we don’t mean the stuff you put in the filters! The garden/patio area outside of Cup ‘N’ Cork is what coffee shop dreams are made of.

Spanish Street Mercantile

Take a trip back in time at the old fashioned ice cream shop attached to Spanish Street Mercantile antique store. Enjoy the homemade ice cream on the patio tables outside or continue your downtown adventure with the deliciousness in tow!



Main Street Station

Despite limited outdoor seating, Main Street Station is still the perfect outdoor meal destination with its walk-up order window and welcoming twinkle lights. 



What’s another great aspect of grabbing some grub from all these wonderful places, and more? You can always get that order to go and enjoy your meal picnic-style just about anywhere downtown! Grab a spot on the Courthouse hill that overlooks downtown and the riverfront. Enjoy an ice cream cone or basket of fries while watching the world go by on one of the many benches lining the streets of downtown. Or, you could head down to the riverfront itself and share your meal with the barges and waves on the Mighty Mississippi. A picnic is always a good idea, as long as you have good food and even better company.

Go out and seize a day of food and fun in Downtown Cape Girardeau!


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8 Downtown Activities for Kids

8 Activities For Kids This Fall in 
Downtown Cape Girardeau

With the cooling weather and changing leaves, Downtown Cape Girardeau is the perfect spot for a day with the family. Check out some of the cool activities available in the coming months!

       

1. Discovery Playhouse

The founders of Discovery Playhouse bring fun, educational experiences to Downtown Cape Girardeau. Located at 502 Broadway, this children's museum has two floors filled with interactive exhibits ideal for kids ages 11 and younger. Established in 2006 by a group of community leaders, the museum moved into their current home in 2010 and have been molding minds and imaginations ever since. Kids enjoy exhibits that allow them to learn as they play, with opportunities to engage in life experiences like shopping for groceries, harvesting veggies, becoming a dentist or even milking a cow! Discovery Playhouse is open Tuesday-Sunday, and is available for large group outings, birthday parties or just a day spent with the family! Check out their website here. 

     

2. Cape Riverfront Market

Saturday mornings are always best spent at the Cape Riverfront Market downtown on Spanish Street. Find amazing local produce, baked goods and artisan crafts in a laid-back, family environment. Teach kids how to make healthy meals or grow their own vegetables at the market demonstration booth.
From live music to ice cold lemonade to giant handmade doughnuts, Cape Riverfront Market has a little something for everyone. The heart of the community shines bright every Saturday 
from 8am-Noon starting in May and lasting until the end of October. Catch the end of this year’s season in the remaining weekends and plan ahead for fun next year! 

     

3. Heritage Days

This fall, plan for a brand new kind of family fun with the first ever Cape Girardeau Heritage Days! Experience the rich history of Cape Girardeau during a weekend of special activities downtown. It all kicks off Friday, September 30, at 6:30pm with a free concert at the Common Pleas Courthouse Gazebo, and gets better from there. Saturday is packed full of fun with events starting at 10am and running throughout the day until 5pm. Sunday has a shorter schedule from 11am until 4pm, but just as many cool attractions will take place! Tour the flag house on Normal Street, have tea in the carriage house at the Glenn House on Lorimier and hang out with your local firefighters at the Cape River Heritage Museum for children’s music and games. Families won’t want to miss out on this free weekend of culture and fun! For a full itinerary and participating attractions, click here! 


4. The LST Ship Memorial

Don’t miss the chance to experience floating history as it docks in Cape Girardeau from September 29-October 3! This LST-325 WWII ship was launched on 27 October 1942 and has been on the move ever since. She now serves as a memorial to honor the men and women of WWII, and as an educational tool for younger generations. Tours of the ship are self-guided and run all day from 9am-5pm from Friday-Monday. Experience a piece of our nation’s history with your family on the riverfront in Downtown Cape Girardeau! Click here for a full history of the ship and its schedule for the year. 

     

5. First Friday With the Arts

Nothing says Fall quite like a Halloween-themed night at First Friday with the Arts in Downtown Cape! On October 7, put on your scariest mask or your prettiest tiara and experience the first taste of Halloween with the family! This year, the Arts Council if Southeast Missouri is hosting Trick Art Treat during First Friday festivities. Show off your outfit in the costume contest, get in the Halloween spirit with spooky ghost stories or a fun hay ride and, of course, snag some candy during the Trick or Treat Art Walk! First Friday begins at 5pm the first Friday of every month and businesses and galleries stay open until 9pm. Explore your community and support local galleries and small businesses while having a blast! For a full list of participating businesses and galleries, click here!

        

6. Indian Park

With the weather finally cooling off, few places are better for family fun than local parks. This fall, check out Indian Park located at William and Lorimier Street in Downtown Cape. This park is the perfect size for a day out on the playground, a family picnic in the pavilion or a friendly game or two of basketball on the courts. Return to the simplicity of being together outdoors and plan a park day before winter arrives!


7. Red House Interpretive Center

Ever wondered what's in the little cottage off of Main Street in historic downtown Cape Girardeau? Well stop wondering and go see the Red House Interpretive Center for yourself! The center commemorates the life of community founder Louis Lorimier, the visit of Lewis & Clark in 1803 and the lives of early settlers of the old Cape Girardeau district. Learn and interact with the history of the town and those who came first. The Red House Interpretive Center is open May-October on Saturdays from 10am-4pm. Admission is $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. For updates on programs and what’s new with the center, click here!

     

8. Family Dinner

After a long day of fun at all the downtown attractions, unwind with a delicious family dinner at a local restaurant. Cape’s downtown cuisine is unmatched, and the perfect opportunity to try something new! However, kids aren’t always as adventurous with their food choices, so we’ve made a quick list of downtown eats with a menu just for the little ones! Get a pasta fix at Bella Italia, spice things up at Broussard’s Cajun Cuisine, try your luck at Katy O’Ferrell’s, fill up on fries at Stevie’s Steakburger and as the perfect end to a perfect day downtown, visit Port Cape Girardeau’s walk-up window on the Riverfront for some hand-dipped ice cream. 


 

There are all kinds of family-oriented, fun-filled activities available in Downtown Cape Girardeau, so take advantage of them and make the most of this Fall season!


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Written by Southeast Missouri State University Student Guest Blogger Laura Williams

This blog series is presented through a partnership between the Historic Preservation Commission of Cape Girardeau, the Historic Preservation Program at Southeast Missouri State University, and Old Town Cape.




       When Cape Girardeau County residents visit the Tax Assessors Office, located behind the Court of Common Pleas at 44 N. Lorimier St., they probably do not realize they are also visiting the original Cape Girardeau Carnegie Library. In 1914, shortly after the City opened its first public library in the Ellingood Building on the corner of Spanish and Themis, new conversations began about how to best fund and construct a bigger and more accessible building that would be able to accommodate the needs of the quickly growing town. Ideas became more substantial plans in 1916 when the Women’s Council of Clubs was the recipient of a $20,000 construction pledge from the Carnegie group for a new library building.  After WWI temporarily interrupted progress, the Women’s Council was able to retake the torch, and in 1921 the Carnegie Corporation reaffirmed its financial support for the project through a $25,000 donation, with the stipulation that the citizens must contribute the remaining $5,000 needed for the project. The residents of Cape Girardeau did more than just affirm their support for a new library building, but also proved their enthusiasm by raising $11,000, more than twice the necessary amount. 

            The original structure, finished in 1922, was one of the last libraries funded by the Carnegie Corporation. Costing $30,000 to construct, the Collegiate Gothic Style building features a flat roof with a limestone cornice line and window surround and red brick laid in the English bond pattern. In 1959, a new foyer designed by prolific architect and Cape Girardeau native John Boardman, was added onto the main entry, significantly altering the physical appearance. This addition had a much more modern architectural style, with a distinctive and prominent curved wall, made from rough-cut ashlar limestone. As the needs of the community continued to grow, the Public Library moved to its current location on Clark St. in 1980 and Cape Girardeau County took over the old building for offices.

            The old Carnegie Library building served the City of Cape Girardeau as a vital source of information and a repository for educational materials for almost 60 years and continues to serve the public’s needs today.

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 Written by Guest Blogger Alyssa Phares, Cape Girardeau Convention & Visitors Bureau and President of the Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission

This blog series is presented through a partnership between the Historic Preservation Commission of Cape Girardeau, the Historic Preservation Program at Southeast Missouri State University, and Old Town Cape.

Located at 805 Broadway in Cape Girardeau, the Broadway Theatre, a National Register of Historic Places property, stands vacant. The Broadway Theatre is significant in that it has contributed to Cape Girardeau’s entertainment and recreational history. The Broadway Theatre is the older of the two remaining historic theatres in Cape Girardeau and is the only surviving one from the silent film and vaudeville eras.

Some would say I am theatre obsessed. But really, it is this theatre that has me wrapped around its finger. I believe strongly in the power of historic preservation and community development. Community theatres provide and still provide a sense of place, a reason to interact socially and in the past they served as a recreational center for members and visitors. The Broadway Theatre was a part of Cape Girardeau’s community fabric from the time it was built in 1921 until it closed its doors for the first time in 1960. During its heyday the Broadway theatre offered a wide variety of entertainments such as style reviews, operettas, concerts, and various community organization activities.

Restoration of the historic Broadway Theatre would be a worthy and fitting project downtown revitalization project in Cape Girardeau. The potential value of a restored Broadway Theatre to Cape Girardeau’s social and cultural scene also cannot be overlooked. As in decades past the theatre could once again become the place to meet friends and be seen out in the community. A vibrant restored theatre brings a bit of big city feel to the smaller community.

 Patrons of the theatre could take their business to the Broadway Corridor for dining, shopping and leisurely strolls before and after events. The theatre could complement the recently built River Campus facility at Southeast Missouri State University and become a draw for heritage tourism.  Picture a lit-up marquee on a tree-lined Broadway avenue, pulsing with light, advertising the interesting events taking place within. It is for all of these reasons that This Place Matters to Cape Girardeau.

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Written by Southeast Missouri State University Student Guest Blogger Laura Williams

This blog series is presented through a partnership between the Historic Preservation Commission of Cape Girardeau, the Historic Preservation Program at Southeast Missouri State University, and Old Town Cape.



           Many of Cape Girardeau’s historic commercial buildings have housed various businesses. This coming and going of businesses is a natural part of a community’s evolution, adding layers to our cultural story. The building at 1127 Broadway is one such example. Currently, the building is home to the sports bar D’Ladiums, but it has also been a drug store, a grill, and a soda fountain.

            The building was originally constructed in 1929, and opened in 1930 as Dormeyer Pharmacy. In September of 1929, the Southeast Missourian reported that, “Plans are being made for construction of a large, modern Spanish-type drug store building on Broadway, just east of Henderson Avenue; Dormeyer Pharmacies is having one-story structure built of light-colored brick; in addition to prescription department, building will contain booths for seating 120 people and complete luncheon service will be offered.” To the right of the front entrance is a distinctive arched doorway. Now closed, this previously led down a set of stairs to the basement of the building. Originally, a soda fountain called “The Cellar” operated there, later being renamed “The Dungeon” and “The Marine Room.” According to the 1942 Cape Girardeau City Directory, Dormeyer Pharmacy, Crescent Cleaners, and USPO Station No 3 were all located at 1127 Broadway. In 1945, the directory lists Matthews Drug Store at that address, but from 1949-1955 it lists Evans Pharmacy. From 1956-1958 the address description was a simple and self- explanatory, “Vacant”.  

The building’s history took a sharp turn, when In October of 1959, the now legendary Jerry “Big Dog” Priest opened a pool hall called Paladium. Located directly across from the University’s Houck Field House, Paladium quickly became a pre/post game tradition for SEMO students. Priest was an excellent pool player and became quite the local legend. Priest started serving hot dogs, chili, and beer on tap. Many people have fond memories of “Big Dog” and the bar. Competitive pool was, and remains, a mainstay activity.  In 2004, the Dirnberger Investment Company bought the building and renamed the bar and pool hall D’Ladium’s but kept the atmosphere that everyone had come to love. 

Since 1974   the memorable and charismatic Jerry Beaver (known as Beaver or the Captain) has managed Pladium/D’Ladium’s. He also has a starring role in most patrons’ memories. You can usually find him directing the bar from his vintage barbershop chair. A cartoon Beaver with an outstretched beer is featured prominently on the exterior sign.  He has literally become a living mascot. The phrase, “The Pard Welcomes You” is featured on the sign and on memorabilia for sale inside. Jerry explained that this is a saying he came up with to greet his best friends. He said that a “Pard” is really just a word he coined for buddy or good friend. Although the story of D’ladiums is a legend in itself, without the historic building it calls home, many fond memories would not have happened.

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Picture Perfect

Fall is a beautiful time to get outside and enjoy all that the season has to offer. Whether you prefer to get out in nature, or to stay in the city explore the shops and attractions downtown, now is the time to get out of the house before winter weather makes it difficult.

With the leaves changing and a cool breeze blowing through almost every sunny day, fall is also a great time to take photos or get portraits. Family portraits for Christmas cards and photo albums look great when surrounded by bright fall colors and seniors in almost every high school choose this time to get their senior photos done.

Downtown Cape Girardeau is host to a multitude of fantastic photographers who specialize in everything from weddings to newborns, meeting any needs you may have for photos this fall. These photographers take photos in beautiful and scenic locations all around the cape area.

Katie Blattel, of Katie Blattel Photography at 221 Independence St., specializes in newborns and high school seniors. Throughout her career she’s done almost every kind of photography there is, but she says that newborns and seniors will always be her favorites. She enjoys doing newborn sessions in her studio, judging which props and backdrops would fit best with each child’s personality and look. When she photographs seniors, she likes to take them outside into more natural settings. With her high school senior sessions, she decides which locations and setting, urban or rural, to use based on the clients preferences, personalities and style. Though there are many fantastic places in the area to take portrait photos, Blattel says that her favorite is the yellow doors at Port Cape, which add the perfect pop of color to any senior photo.


Shannon Duggan Photography, located at 42 N. Main St., mostly sticks to wedding and engagement photos and portraits of high school seniors; however, she likes to build a relationship with her clients and many of them return for anniversary photos, newborn sessions, and family portraits. Duggan will meet her clients in her office space, which she shares with Annie-Em’s At Home, but prefers to get outside and utilize natural light for her shoots. Annie-Em’s At Home does a lot of styling for Duggan’s shoots, providing furniture and props to give a unique style and feel to every session. Although she travels all over the Midwest for wedding shoots, Duggan says that she loves working in Cape Girardeau because it offers, as she says, the best of both worlds. It has beautiful locations both in the city and on the backroads just outside city limits, perfect for capturing the mood for any shoot. She can take a photo of groomsmen on certain streets downtown for an edgier city look, then drive a few minutes outside of the city to a beautiful backroad location to give a bride a softer, more natural styled photo.  Her favorite location in downtown Cape to take portrait clients is an ivy covered wall at Annie Laurie’s Antiques, which offers a beautiful and unique backdrop for any occasion.

Deanna Arevalo, with Arevalo photography at 151 N. Fountain St., specializes in high school senior portraits and family portraits. While fall is her busiest season for high school seniors, she has quite a few families who return to her every year for their family portrait its around this time as well. Arevalo is known for always shooting on location and using natural  lighting in her shoots. She tries to customize each session to the personality and look of her clients, choosing city or natural locations based on what fits the clients best. She always chooses her locations based on where there is the best natural light. Because she always follows the light, she could never choose one location in Cape Girardeau as her favorite, as every location has unique qualities which suit it best at different times and on different days.

All of the photographers in Downtown Cape Girardeau have worked for years to find the best locations, settings and light all around the city for every photo-shoot that they do. Each one offers a unique style and individualized sessions for each of their clients. Whether you are looking for senior photos, a family portrait for your Christmas card or a photo-shoot for a fall engagement or wedding, downtown Cape has the photographer and settings perfect for you.

This post was written by guest blogger and Old Town Cape Intern, Colleen Drewes. Please note, this list is not comprehensive nor representative of every downtown photographer. For a full list, check out the directory on our website.

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Jim Maurer recently won the Stick Your Neck Out Award at the 2015 Missouri Main Street Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Old Town Cape nominated Mr. Maurer for his work in the creation of the Cape Girardeau CID. As a business owner with a regional presence, Jim risked inviting negative reactions from the inevitable naysayers in the community who would be opposed to his advocacy of a new tax. Despite this risk, Jim believed that it was the right thing to do for downtown and for our entire community, and so he was willing to stick his neck out… repeatedly… to ensure that the job got done, and got done right.

Jim started his work with Old Town Cape in 2004 when he began his first of two, three year terms on the Board of Directors. At the end of his second term, he agreed to continue volunteering as chair of a steering committee to facilitate the formation of a downtown community improvement district (CID)-- a process that ended up being almost 5 years in the making and more than controversial at times.

Jim was not a chair in name only. He engaged in all the work of the committee, helping set the boundaries and services that outlined the petition. He helped facilitate and coordinate in kind or delayed payment of a survey for a legal description, legal work and the business side (office supplies and other needed items). He was involved in most all legal, city council and media discussions.

The steering committee originally had 13 members but eventually only about half of those were active and did the work of the committee. The group was facilitated by Old Town Cape’s Downtown Development Team which included the Director and a board member of Old Town Cape, a Chamber representative and a City representative. This group acted as a resource to the steering committee and did much of the research, facilitation of meetings and timeline.

After serving on the Old Town Cape Board, Jim knew the importance of keeping the formation of the new district and Old Town Cape separate. He took the lead position on public and council presentations, media inquiries and discussions and property owner inquiries. He continually protected Old Town Cape and the Development Team and at the same time helped people understand that this was a way to provide needed services that likely Old Town Cape could facilitate. Even though the whole process was facilitated through Old Town Cape and Development Team, Jim made sure the steering committee had its own presence through his representation.

The original boundaries outlined in the petition included almost 460 properties. (In comparison, the other CID in Cape Girardeau boasts 1 property owner.) Jim owned property with a business in the district, a gas station/quick shop. There were 2 other similar businesses owned by other individuals in the district. He took the lead on gaining their support even though the extra tax would create discrepancies in pricing/margin in relation to their stores in other parts of the town. This was by no means an easy sell and became quite controversial with one owner. But Jim persisted and finally came to an understanding with the other two business/property owners.

After the petition was finalized, Jim spent many hours coordinating and personally gathering property owner signatures, traveling as much as 90 miles for one signature. When almost enough signatures were gathered to deliver to City Council, Jim facilitated a difficult decision with the steering committee to redraw the boundaries. This decision resulted in voiding the signed petitions. A new petition had to be drafted with new boundaries and the steering committee had to start over on gathering signatures.

The reason behind the decision was that a section of the original boundaries was simply not supportive of the CID concept and had very different expectations of service than the rest of the proposed district. It was determined that should the CID pass, those property owners would likely be disappointed in the service because, no matter how presented, they had unrealistic expectations. In addition, there were a number of residents in that area who were not supportive and could have negatively influenced the vote to pass the taxes. Although it was not the easy thing to do, redrawing the boundaries was the right thing to do.

This was a difficult decision resulting in disappointment and some discouragement as the group had to start over. But Jim was not deterred. With his property and one of the other quick shops left out of the new proposed boundaries, he made sure not to include the third quick shop so they were not at a disadvantage. This was a testament to Jim’s integrity as that property would have provided a large amount in tax to the district had it been left in and likely the district and tax could have passed with it included. He had given his word that they would all do it together and when that situation needed to be changed, he made sure it was fair for everyone.

Jim went back and asked for additional survey work and rallied the tired volunteers (and Old Town Cape staff and the rest of the Development Team) to get the signatures needed to form the district. The new boundaries contained 268 properties and 180 property owners. 180 signed petitions, representing 64.35% of the properties in the district and 52.78% per capita were delivered to the City Clerk on December 5, 2013. The signed petitions were verified and the request to form the district was approved by City Council on May 5, 2014.

Now it was time to “get the vote”. The petition called for a .5 % sales tax and a small property tax to fund the services outlined. The property tax was included because a section of the district was already part of a Special Business District that was funded through the exact property included in the Petition. It was set up that the Special Business District would be dissolved when the property tax was passed for the CID. So those property owners would experience a “wash” in their property taxes while properties in the other part of the proposed district would only see a slight increase in their property tax. It was used as a selling point, noting how much had been done within the boundaries of that Special Business District and explaining that would continue in the expanded area.

It was a complicated vote. The steering committee was originally advised that the property and sales tax could be combined in one ballot. But in reality this had never been done before in the state of Missouri and when it came to working with the County Clerk, her research found that the ballots had to be divided. Two ballots. Two different time frames. Two different requirements for passage.

Again, none of this deterred Jim. He worked with the steering committee and Development Team, discussing the best way to insure success the first time. The group agreed the help of a consultant was needed. This was an expense that was not reimbursable by the CID, should it be finalized. Jim helped the team brainstorm and eventually fundraise, donating some of the investment himself to make sure the vote was successful. The consultants helped frame the vote and develop strategy. And Jim helped implement the strategy, again taking time to make some of the contacts himself and facilitating a public meeting of the residents within the district to help answer questions. Taxes are never popular and both the sales and property tax proposal had their detractors. Jim stood strong and took the lead in facing the opposition.

The September 16 mail in ballot election was certified by the County Clerk with the sales tax passing with a total of 51 votes (out of 180 voters), 31 in favor and 20 against. However, the property tax failed on a close vote with a total of 54 votes, 28 opposed and 26 in favor. The budget was rewritten and the process moved forward. Sales tax began being collected on January 1, 2015 – 5 years after the first informational meeting of the steering committee in January of 2010.

Jim helped facilitate the transition of the formation to execution and the running of the CID by named Board of Directors. He was willing to even be a Board member but became ineligible when the boundaries were redrawn. But Jim was intent on seeing it through and attended Board meetings and held discussions for the first six months after the establishment of the Board. He helped frame the request for qualifications that would lead to a contract for services providing management of the district.

For his unwavering leadership and commitment to the formation of the Downtown Cape Girardeau Community Improvement District in the face of adversity and possible personal damage and insult, Jim Maurer is more than deserving of the 2015 Missouri Main Street Connection’s Stick Out Your Neck Award. Congratulations, Jim!

Pictured below: Marla Mills, Old Town Cape Executive Director, accepts the 2015 Stick Out Your Neck Award on behalf of Jim Maurer, from Dr. Steven Hoffman, Missouri Main Street Connection Board of Directors President and Old Town Cape Board Member.


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The Former Federal Building recently won the award for the Best Adaptive Re-Use Project at the Missouri Main Street Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Old Town Cape nominated the Former Federal Building because this project turned a white elephant property into a viable space for new businesses. This building has become a hub for quality businesses that may have not existed if this project was unable to happen.    

 

The Formal Federal Building was designed by St. Louis architect Marcel Boucicault, who was noted for his mid-century modern designs. This building had many positives and negatives, which made its redevelopment both essential and challenging. This quality built, classically modernist building that opened their doors in 1968 was a great addition to the thriving downtown landscape.

 

The Former Federal Building was in use until 2007 when the construction of the Rush Limbaugh Federal Courthouse was completed just a few blocks away. After the move of all the federal offices and court, the building was slated for many different uses; from a homeless shelter to municipal offices. None of these routes were taken and in 2012 the Old Federal Building was sold by the Federal Government to an out of state buyer. The new buyer had no plans for development and the community believed that it would continue to deteriorate and sit vacant.

 

One of the challenges with the redevelopment of the building was the massive size of the structure. The 46,000 square foot building needed a creative solution that would make it fiscally possible for someone to undertake. Luckily a local developer, the Janus Development Group, had the vision and the resources needed to turn this white elephant property into a fabulous office center in Old Town Cape.

 

In 2014 the Janus Development Group purchased the building with the intent of putting it back into service. By providing critical upgrades to the building, yet retaining the historic look and feel of the public areas, Janus Development Group and their managing partner Athena Property Group, have indeed given this historic building a new beginning. In the short time they have been open; they have filled 13 leases and in the process brought a number of new businesses to downtown Cape Girardeau.

 

This project created a buzz in the community. The Former Federal Building houses businesses from lawyers to photographers. Their first lease was signed before they even opened the doors. Codefi is a creative co-working space that focuses on entrepreneurship, business development and helping startup businesses reach their full potential. They have been a great addition to the district by giving people a place to work and network. Codefi has been open for under a year and already has over 100 members.

 

Although the façade needed minimal work, extensive work was done to the interior structure because of the time it sat vacant. The heating and cooling of the building turned out to be a massive undertaking. During construction, the water lines to the radiator had burst, leading to the complete overhaul of the system.

 

A really nice addition to the Janus Development Group’s effort is their preservation of the old courtroom. The judge’s bench and witness stand remain, giving it a unique and historic feel, and as event space available for both business and public use, it will be responsible for bringing all sorts of people downtown for all sorts of reasons. Their vision is to rent out the courtroom to community members that need a unique venue for events.

 

In addition to the courtroom, many other historic features were kept in order to preserve the history of the building. The marble walls and terrazzo floors were preserved in the lobby, and the original doors throughout the building were saved. This shows the commitment to historic preservation and how adaptively reusing buildings can be a strong economic driver.  

 

Looking forward, the Former Federal Building will be retrofitted with LED lighting in order to comply with LEED standards and technology. The Former Federal building is a great example of a rehabilitation project that is able to adapt and progress while staying true to preservation standards. This once white elephant property has become a model for preservation based practices in Old Town Cape.

 

This project demonstrates everything that Old Town Cape promotes; economic development, people working together to reenergize and revitalize downtown and setting an example of good preservation practice. For these reasons and many more, the Former Federal Building is well deserving of the Best Adaptive Re-Use Project award. Congratulations!

Pictured below: Marla Mills, Old Town Cape Executive Director, accepted the 2015 Adaptive Reuse Award Award on behalf of Janus Development Group, from Gayla Roten, Missouri Main Street Connection State Director. Also, before and after photos of the Former Federal Building's revitalization.





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