Chuck Williams

It’s downtown, not uptown

Downtown Columbus is no longer under a dark cloud. It is one of the city’s premier spots.
Downtown Columbus is no longer under a dark cloud. It is one of the city’s premier spots. chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com

Y’all actually do pay attention, unlike my kids.

I am amazed, stunned, even overwhelmed at the response to last week’s column. We asked a simple question: What do you want to see in downtown Columbus over the next decade?”

It became obvious that a lot of you have an opinion. There were more than 20 comments on the story and there were 114 comments on the Ledger-Enquirer’s Facebook page. And that’s not counting the dozens of phone calls and emails I got.

Yep, y’all sure are an opinionated bunch, and you must like parlor games.

There was one thing most of us agreed on, and it was almost universal: the name of the dang place is downtown, not uptown.

“Yes to downtown not uptown!” a response from Andy Perkins via Facebook, which was the typical reaction.

One friend pointed out it would be too difficult to change the name because of branding and the money spent marketing it as uptown and not downtown. I understand, but disagree. What if they had the same attitude when then-Columbus State University President Frank Brown insisted on renaming Cody Road to University Avenue? Dr. Brown had a vision and was spot on. The way I see it, and many of you do, too, it is the same way with uptown and downtown.

Call it what it is, most of you said. That one was easy ... next.

Another thing that was almost universal was the need for two specific businesses: a grocery store and a pharmacy. As more and more folks move into downtown lofts and the Historic District, I suspect we will see both. A pharmacy could go almost anywhere, but a grocery store will be more difficult to place.

My suggestion for a grocery would be at the corner of Victory Drive and Veterans Parkway, on the old Booker T. Washington public housing project property, still owned by the Housing Authority of Columbus. It would serve the area, but it would also be attractive for folks going back and forth between Alabama and Fort Benning.

Readers like Sana Ball via Facebook want to see an urban market and not a full-blown grocery. That could be the answer, as well.

One reader, Jay Snellings, responded via email this way: “My crystal ball cracked a while back. Also, thinking outside the box makes my head hurt.”

Jay and I are a lot alike, but he did bring up a good point.

“We were just in Asheville and enjoyed the non-smoking atmosphere as we walked and eat outside,” he wrote. “That can be done here!”

Amen, you’re preaching to the choir, brother.

Another good suggestion came from Mark Wood of Smiths Station, Ala., who prefaced his remarks with, “I have a lot of great ideas, but I don’t have a diploma to back them up.”

He wants to see information kiosks scattered around downtown to point folks in the direction of restaurants and attractions. Agreed. What about making videos and menus available? And while you are at it, connect it all to an app that allows even easier access.

Who knows what is going to happen over the next 10 years, but here is the bet that it will happen quickly.

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