Better Block Event Fills Vacant Store Fronts in St. Joseph

Published 05/04 2012 06:15PM

Updated 05/04 2012 09:35PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Traditionally the streets of downtown St. Joseph are slow paced.

But, a new event might spark some change for the future of vacant store fronts.

With an abundance of vacant and abandoned buildings downtown, Felix Street in St. Joseph hasn't seen this much energy in years.

"From living downtown for over ten years now, there's a lot more going on now then there has been in many years," said Greg Bingham, building owner on Felix Street.

The Better Block St. Joseph event brought local businesses to vacant store fronts.

They have set up pop-up businesses up and down Felix to help jump start more revitalization.

"It gives the public a chance to see what could happen down here if we had a lot more traffic and a lot more businesses here. But, it also gives the business owners a chance to see that it is viable to set up something downtown," said Bingham

A variety of businesses from clothing and jewelry to fresh produce and coffee shops have been set up.

The Better Block is showing that a thriving downtown atmosphere is possible.

"Gives people the vision, you know, and let them know that you put a little work into it and you can do it," said volunteer Travis Unzicker, who also helped with much of the planning and preparation.

For months, many volunteers have been working to make this event happen, and last week they began the cleaning and preparation work along Felix Street.

"We started with the demolition and cleaning, and once we got that done we starting painting and it took us about two days to do all the painting and once all the painting was done we moved outside," said Unzicker.

Volunteers wanted to make this event feel real, and they left the street open for traffic to show the community downtown's true potential.
"We've got two or three buildings along this block that are for sale right now, we've got a couple store fronts that are for rent. It would be great if some of these businesses that are in here for this weekend would stay," said Bingham.

Better Block hopes the event provides a living, breathing visualization of a booming atmosphere of St. Joseph's historic downtown.

The Better Block event runs through Saturday and is entirely driven by volunteers.

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