I know we have all played that game, "If I won the lottery...". My answer has been the same for years - to restore the Michigan Central Depot. Yes, I know I'm supposed to pick something crazy like a trip to Tahiti or a new Ford GT (which is definitely on the list), but I'm a realist. I am never going to quit my job just because I won the lottery. But with that kind of money, the opportunities to do good on a larger scale certainly are enticing.
But for our downtowns, we aren't going to win the lottery anytime soon. All Main Street Managers dream of that angel investor that loves our downtown and donates a boatload of money, but the chances of a unicorn playing Parcheesi on Main Street is more likely. I think that thought sometimes paralyzes us and stops us from tackling some big projects because they are too expensive, too scary or just too darn big, like the Michigan Central Depot. Check out this video of the Depot.
If you saw the movie Transformers, then you saw the Depot. Well, at least you saw pieces of it as the Autobots and Decepticons tore through it. While the movie was enjoyable brain candy, I was most excited that the building was being used, at least for something. I know, it's an 18-story nightmare of a building that has been allowed to fall into disrepair for years, and there are several political issues that serve as stumbling blocks to a real conversation about restoration. But then there are glimmers of hope, including new windows, electricity and increased security to prevent future damage. While they are a start, and nothing is perfect, it inspires hope. And sometimes hope is all we need to get started.
We all have those projects that we see every day, and put off to another non-specific future day because we don't have the time, the money, the energy or even know where to begin. But I would suggest that it is that type of project that will generate the most interest, the most community engagement and the most significant impact in your downtown.
If Main Street were easy, everyone would do it.
The Downtown Geek