Editorial: Downtown enhancement opportunity

Aug. 31, 2013 @ 08:31 PM

September has dawned, and still, the shovels are yet to turn the first piece of earth. There’s not a survey marker to be found on the corner of Wyche and Breckenridge.

In April, plans were announced for the final stages of what is to become Breckenridge Commons. It is billed as a one-stop learning center in downtown Henderson, with a 1,000-seat performing arts center alongside the library.

McGregor Hall will be linked to Perry Memorial by a lobby. The city won’t operate it, and taxpayers will not have paid for it.

We remained thrilled with the concept. But count us as perplexed, anxious and expectant along with anyone else hoping to see something materialistic happening.

The Embassy Cultural Center Foundation was hopeful of ground-breaking last month. Doors would open in January 2015, if not by Christmas 2014 should builders do better than expected.

The project’s apparent delay comes at a time when the Downtown Development Commission is coming to terms with another project dying a few blocks away on the other side of Garnett Street. A recreational, educational, entertainment and family center on Zene Street has suffered a slow death, though a possible sale of the property and interest by other groups could give resuscitation.

For now, the old warehouse has a tree growing out of it. Major dollars are needed for a rescue.

The performing arts center was already an eye-catcher for renewed enhancement of downtown. The DDC’s focus, once needing to be tunneled to nearly three-quarters of a million dollars through the Golden LEAF Foundation, has a chance for broader and fresh perspective.

Four seats are up for grabs on the Henderson City Council. Fresh ideas, even from incumbents, now have a chance to grow there as well.

But where will our city go?

REEF’s potential, arguably, had a high return on investment and Golden LEAF’s $700,000 was essentially house money. It’s gone. The $20 million producing Breckenridge Commons is not, and will be a foundation for the future.

Banding together, dedicating resources and commitments to downtown Henderson around Breckenridge Commons, should be our top priority. The return on investment can spread, maybe even as far as a few blocks away on Zene Street.