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Readers respond
Responses submitted on Facebook
PJ Wiltshire: Bring back the Blue Mountain Coffee Co Cafe on Columbia Street. It was as cool as the first Starbucks in Seattle. Ask anyone that was around in the ’70s about it and they’ll tear up on you.
Sarah Hull: No. 1 Knowing how the Fort loves a restaurant, I would love to see a coffee/all organic restaurant serving locally grown/produced food. It would use a demo prep program that would serve to educate customers on how to improve the quality of their nutrition. Stop GMOs! And PJ ... yes they would have to serve a Blue Mountain California sandwich with sprouts! :)
No. 2 Import/thrift shop. Along the lines of the original Pier 1. The thrift end of the business could have a charitable aspect aimed at youth in our community. Young adults everywhere are taking Goodwill by choice and by storm these days; I think a shop (with a twist) would be successful on The Landing.
No. 3 Generally, I would like to see The Landing be more than the nightlife spot it seems to be. It is an extra special part of the Fort for me because my great grandparents ran one of the area’s first groceries on the south side of the street. I would like to see a venue that has a rotating local arts base displaying products for sale and possibly offering group-instruction events. I would love to see history represented throughout The Landing and a specific intent for The Landing to be a place that uses creativity to join seniors and area youth.
John Maxwell: How about dedicating three to five parking spots for food trucks and add an area with outdoor tables and chairs. Maybe a platform for street musicians and performers.

Landing on the right balance

About two weeks ago, The Journal Gazette was buzzing with mysterious news about the Downtown Development Trust acquiring four properties on West Columbia Street, also known as The Landing.

The Landing is one of downtown’s promising hot spots, so an investment like this could mean big things if the space is used in the right ways.

“Right” is a relative term, so I’d like to help start the conversation about what the “right” developments might be. Share your ideas with me on Facebook and Twitter at @JGCoffeeBreak.

Here are five possibilities:

1. Loft living spaces affordable for young people.

“Affordable for young people” is key. Sometimes I think there’s too much of a focus on “luxury” living spaces downtown, and not enough focus on making living spaces affordable for the people who actually want to live there. By affordable, I mean somewhere in the range of $300 to $600 a month. It would be amazing to see living spaces like that in the middle of everything that’s developing on The Landing.

2. A pedestrian-only street.

This might seem like a limitation at first, but it’s not. If The Landing were pedestrian-only, it would make it safer for bar-hoppers at night, and it would open up tons of opportunities for more outdoor events in the warmer months. The Landing is a historic landmark, so let’s restore it and experience it by foot. Pedestrian-only spaces encourage people to get out of their cars and create the engaging community we want to see develop downtown.

3. A thrift shop.

Thrift shops are perfect for The Landing because they’re fun places to go with friends and affordable enough that you can actually buy something when you’re on a budget. Another benefit is that the store is always changing, so you never get bored, and even if you’re not much of a shopper, you’ll probably find something to amuse yourself on a mid-afternoon stroll.

4. Affordable fitness alternatives.

What if there were an affordable fitness center where you could take dance or yoga on weeknights? It would encourage healthy living and community involvement, and again, you’d have the walkable feature for people who live downtown. It would also give people who don’t live downtown an excuse to come to The Landing.

5. One-of-a-kind restaurants and bars.

If we’re going to have more eateries and nightclubs, let’s make them interesting. We could tap into The Landing’s history as a local music haven with a quirky piano bar. Or what about a cool brunch spot with outdoor seating to play up the pedestrian-only space?

I can picture it now. You’re sitting outside in the 70-degree bliss of a mid-spring morning, sipping coffee while reading your favorite morning newspaper and enjoying a column by yours truly. It’s a lovely thought.

Kara Hackett is social media writer for The Journal Gazette. To see more of her work throughout the week and participate in the conversation, go to, where this column first appeared.