Thursday, June 12, 2008

Executive Inn closing presents region with an opportunity

Comments from Dr. Fred Reeves, Director of the Downtown Owensboro at Monday's press conference regarding the community response to the closing of the Executive Inn:

"The swift closing of the Executive Inn presents us enormous short term challenges. However, given the commitment of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce I have great faith that they will have a significant positive outcome on many of these challenges.

At the same time I hold the view these very events present us a great opportunity to realize long term benefits for the community on that 17 acre property.

Prompted by work of the Downtown Development Corporation’s 2007 downtown study recommendations, the City’s recent Strategic Planning process and other downtown advocates, the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation assumed the leadership to launch our “Downtown Place Making Initiative.” That initiative is focused on creating a vibrant downtown that will attract talent to our community.

To that end we have engaged the Gateway Planning Group from Ft. Worth, TX to guide us in the development of a downtown master plan that is implementation-based. This process is significantly different than anything undertaken in the past. as it will provide us a step by step approach to working with private sector investors to develop both the public and private amenities that will once again make downtown Owensboro the envy of our region.

Since the beginning of our discussions with the Gateway Group they have emphasized the importance of the Executive Inn property and its future development. Jon Hockenyos, the lead economist with the Gateway Team, has consistently referred to the Executive Inn property as the cornerstone to our future downtown development.

Our “downtown place making initiative” will guide us as we work with developers to make sure that in the very near future Owensboro has a state of the art convention center hotel complex that will serve our community for the next several decades as the Executive Inn has in the past. The Gateway group will also provide guidance and prudent fiscal analyses to insure that the taxpayers’ investment in amenities and other necessary infrastructure appropriate to leverage maximum private development.

Thankfully, the public and private leadership of the community had already anticipated the need for this progressive approach to downtown development and we have that process already moving forward to insure we proceed with both determination and wisdom."

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