RESIDENTIAL upgrades in downtown Quincy are slowly changing things in an area where dwelling units have been on the decline for decades.
During the early 1900s the central business districts in the core of most U.S. cities had a fair amount of residential uses, especially on the upper floors.
Quincy reflected that national trend, but after World War II, people started moving farther out, and the city expanded outward.
Now the city is following the advice of development planners and trying to bring residents back into the central business district.
Starting in 2015, Quincy launched a program that offers forgivable loans of up to $25,000 in matching funds for upper-story apartment projects. Funds come from the Tax Increment Finance District located downtown.
During the first three years, 15 apartments have been created. The city has provided $330,000, attracting more than $485,000 in private investments.
"The upper-story redevelopment is what's making the 24-7 environment downtown. That generates the traffic, generates the retail spending, generates the hospitality spending" that keeps downtown businesses going, Chuck Bevelheimer, director of planning and development, told The Herald-Whig.
Restaurants, bars and retailers downtown confirm that people who live within walking distance are their best customers.
As a bonus, of sorts, those business operators who own the buildings where they are located say each market-rate apartment they create generates rental income.
Alderman Jack Holtschlag, one of the 7th Ward aldermen elected to represent most of downtown, agrees that upper-floor apartments help the business climate.
"It's huge. It gets people downtown and makes jobs for contractors and fixes up the (buildings) downtown. All the studies show that to keep the downtown going, you need people there," Holtschlag told The Herald-Whig.
Another round of residential redevelopment loans are being sought by the city. Proposals must be submitted by 4 p.m. Aug. 2, according to the city's website. Eligible property owners and developers should apply.
Quincy is blessed with a large and vibrant business district. Many of the shop owners say they were attracted to the area because of the momentum they've seen there.
Bruce Guthrie, executive director of the District, said, "People want that downtown experience."
We couldn't agree more.