Here at the Wigshop we occasionally do some real legwork when it comes to our fair city. In the spirit of finding out as much as possible about the candidates for mayor and their opinions on the future of downtown we reached out and offered some space to air their thoughts. First up is Madeline Rogero, the following are her words, unedited and scruffy-city real.
Downtown Knoxville is the economic and cultural center of our city. It has also become “everyone’s neighborhood” and a great place to live, work, play, and visit. I live just over the river in South Knoxville. Downtown is where we go for music, movies, restaurants, shopping, to visit with friends, and to just hang out.
I will continue to ensure that downtown works for its residents, those who go to work there every day, and those who visit. In order to continue the development of difficult properties in the core of Downtown as well as the Old City I will continue the incentive programs such as Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). These programs have worked so well in large part because they have been administered in such a way as to earn public trust. That will not change. They have helped us maintain our wonderful stock of historic buildings.
I will continue to work with CBID to recruit retail and will make the recruitment of businesses to downtown a priority. The TVA East Tower is an excellent site for a major employer and I will work closely with the Chamber to attract a headquarters company for that space.
My vision of downtown includes the Old City, which is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. The present administration has made this a priority and I will continue that approach. My administration will continue to stress expanding downtown through connectivity in all directions. I was proud to have played a part in the creation of the Downtown North Redevelopment Area. I will continue that approach toward Cumberland to the West, Magnolia corridor to the east, and to the South Waterfront.
Events are a very important element of downtown, and my administration will work to find the optimal mix of large and small events and to find the best place to hold events. The recent success of the HoLa festival on Depot near the Old City demonstrates the value of working with Old City merchants and extending the vitality of Market Square to the east and north. The extension of Christmas in the City decorations and the parade into the Old City has helped bring more people to the great new businesses on Central and Jackson.
Downtown is the heart of our city. It cannot be viewed in a vacuum. The arteries extending to the core neighborhoods that surround downtown are critical both to the neighborhoods and for Downtown. I will continue working to have the arteries pedestrian and bicycle friendly. The Cumberland project and the Magnolia corridor redevelopment area both will benefit from this vision.