Downtown Fayetteville’s Trifecta for Success:

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Every city needs a downtown. It’s the character of the locality — especially in these times when the past four decades have turned our entire nation into one huge homogenized “Stepford” community. My goodness, everything looks the same.

The skylines have all become redundant with silhouettes of McDonald’s golden arches, Cinema 15 marquees, box stores like Walmart, BJ’s, Sam’s and Bed, Bath and Beyond all dominating the landscape.

Well, at least you won’t go hungry. Look around. You’ve so many choices: Golden Corral, Waffle House, Olive Garden, Moe’s, Chili’s, Ihop, etc.

Every time I drive down Skibo Road, I hear Aretha Franklin singing in my head: “Chain, chain, chains, chains of fools.” Who wouldn’t want to get away to someplace different?

While I’m on singers, Petula Clark had it right in the early ‘60s. Downtown: “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go, Downtown. When you’ve got worries all the noise and the hurry seems to help, I know. Downtown.” Well, she made a believer out of me, but I’m living in Cumberland County and it’s taking a painfully long time for our downtown community to take root. No doubt it will be successful if it ever comes to fruition.

Yes, I know. For those of us who love this community, it is extremely painful to watch. For dozens, it has been financially devastating. But, you would think with time and pain and a countless number of consultant recommendations we would be further along.

Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, I would like to offer up my Trifecta for Fayetteville’s Success. Yes, here are the three things I feel would replace the lost momentum for developing our Historic Downtown as a preferred destination point in this community and region. The three things I refer to are actually structures and businesses in their own right. But, statistically placed they would create the foundation for growth, economic development and quality of life.

These are: 1. HOTEL. It doesn’t matter if it is a Marriott, Fairfield Inn or Hampton Inn. Our guests need somewhere to stay for Heaven’s sake. If you don’t want them at the mall, don’t make them stay at the mall. Even the people coming to visit the Crown Coliseum would stay downtown because of the convenience and nightlife.

2. PERFORMING ARTS CENTER. Yes, wouldn’t it be wonderful if people could visit downtown, shop, enjoy a relaxed casual dinner then attend a cultural event all in the same evening? They wouldn’t even have to go home. (See #1). In order for this to happen, the entire arts community will have to rethink the fortification of their silos.

And, my favorite, 3. A BASEBALL STADIUM. Yes, a “come one-come all” sports complex that any minor-league team would be proud of. Put it right smack dab downtown. Name it the Fayetteville-Cumberland County “Babe Ruth” Memorial Stadium. Anchor it with the Babe Ruth Museum and a few small novelty shops and have John Meroski of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau work his marketing magic and you would literally suck people off I-95 into downtown Fayetteville. Why? Because now they have something to see and do. And, they have someplace to stay. What is so hard about this? Let’s do it! Look at the 300 Block of Hay St. Look at Ralph Huff’s Park View development across from the Airborne and Special Operations Museum — simply beautiful and extremely reflective of what we want our community to be. However, we cannot expect Ralph Huff to rebuild our city all by himself.

We don’t just need a plan, we need an action plan. We have the talent in this community and we have the leadership. It’s time for the City of Fayetteville and the County of Cumberland to set some real priorities for future growth and prosperity. Everyone needs to think differently and act differently. We need to become committed and aggressive toward these goals.

 “High tide floats all boats.”

Every successful community has a strong city center. Positive, aggressive cooperation will get us there. Shall we begin? Thanks for reading the Up & Coming Weekly.

P.S. The Prince Charles Hotel has got to go!!!!!

Photo: The development of Person Street is bringing growth to downtown, but there is more to be done.

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