By: Hunter Wilson
The downtown area contains business important to the community of Carbondale. An organization exists, called Carbondale Main Street, which seeks to improve and promote Carbondale’s downtown area. This organization works to offer design assistance grants as well as promotional tools. The group hosts major events that bring people from inside and outside the community to the region. These events include Main Street Night Out, Light Fantastic Parade, Friday Night Fair, Downtown Walking Tours, Planting Days, and Halloween on Main Street. These events look to bring more people to the downtown area and promote local business. It would be highly valuable for the Creative Arts Incubator to be able to cater to Carbondale Main Street vision. The Incubator will look to work in conjunction with Carbondale Main Street for promotional purposes.
According to the Downtown Carbondale FRAMEWORK Plan, the city wants the downtown region to be the “focal point and regional center for Southern Illinois”. Carbondale is looking to encourage shopping, dining, cultural resources, and host civic buildings in the downtown region. This will create a central location for the citizens of the city as well as residents from around southern Illinois to visit. In recent past, community focus has shifted away from downtown. This can be seen entering the city from IL-13 East. Big box business and commerce has shifted to the outskirts of the city to accommodate the steady stream of people entering the city from the highway. The University Mall is a good example of commerce shifting to the outskirts of the city. While coined, The University Mall, it sits nearly 2 miles away from SIU’s main campus. So students who are walking from the main campus usually have to take public transportation to reach a major shopping destination. This public transportation will often make multiple stops along the way as well creating a longer trip to this destination. Carbondale is looking to bring more commerce to the downtown region which is only about .5 miles from main campus, an easy walk for most. While downtown has seen some recent decline, it is still very much alive. For the Creative Arts Incubator, a major goal is to connect SIU’s main campus with the downtown region which will bring more students to the area. Allowing students to easily access downtown will hopefully increase liveliness and business.