So what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Would more people want to live downtown if there were more to do? Or will people wait to see what happens downtown before they invest their money into apartments and lofts? I believe that if there were masses of families, young people and baby-boomers living downtown, that the retail and entertainment would have to come to feed the demand.
I have lived downtown for many years and I love it. I can walk to Zanotto’s to get groceries or Walgreen’s to fill a prescription. I can walk to the Improv, O’Flaherty’s and P.F. Chang’s for a show, dinner or drinks, and afterwards I never have to worry about driving. It’s a neighborhood feeling when you walk into a bar or a restaurant. And, there is always plenty of action right outside my front door.
What are perks to me, others might see as an inconvenience. I have to park in a garage and walk a few blocks to my apartment; I have to deal with more noise on Friday and Saturday nights due to the bar crowd and cruising. And if I visit the Starbucks on San Pedro Square, I am a certain to be surrounded by a few homeless people.
But is this appealing to people that live in San Jose? We seem to be programmed to prefer quiet homes on tree-lined streets, rather than lofts in the middle of the city. Maybe wooing San Joseans downtown is a hard sell. Will empty nesters or young families trade in a home for a condo like they do in other cosmopolitan cities? Maybe we should be focusing on young professionals who don’t care about peace and quiet. We will have trouble getting people to live downtown until we see them cashing in their garden for a balcony, their driveway for a parking garage, and their annoying neighbor for an occasional homeless person.
And I am wondering if everyone who says, “We need more people living downtown,” would actually live downtown themselves. Here’s to hoping there is a shift in our mindset and masses of people start to see the allure of living in our city core. Or else we won’t ever get what we really want or need.