Since our arrival in Kent my family and I always seem to end up down by the riverside. And we’re never alone down there. We see a lot of fisherman, rock sitters, stone skippers, tree huggers, dam admirers and just old fashioned nature lovers. As we walk the banks the river seems to bring out those deep philosophical discussions and because you can never turn a city manager’s brain off, we often end up talking about how underutilized the Kent riverfront is economically.
Everywhere we’ve lived, the cities have used the attraction of rivers to jump start their local economies. And the truth is, it always worked really well. We’ve got an enormous asset just waiting to be used — that’s why I was delighted to hear the plans of Riverside Wine and Cheese to extend a deck along the river’s edge for customers to sit and enjoy. Let’s hope this is the start of something contagious.
It may be a start of something new in Kent but the fact is waterfront development has been hot and heavy in cities all over this country for decades. Big cities have been working the river angle to their advantage for some time. A few cities, like Providence and San Antonio have become destinations because of the opportunities created by their rivers.
For a sampling of these riverfront projects in big cities, check out the links below:
The pictures below are as follows:
1.& 2. Indianapolis Indiana
3. RiverFire in Providence RI
4. Marina on the Potomac River in Alexandria VA
5. San Antonio RiverWalk
6. Columbus, Ohio
7. Alexandria VA, Potomac River
8. Cleveland Waterfront
9. Milwaukee Wisconsin
10. & 11. Louisville, Kentucky
12. & 13. Alexandria, VA
14. Tennessee River in Knoxville TN, “Volunteer Navy” before UT Football games
15. Tennessee River
But it’s not just big cities. Even in the small village where I grew up, in Fairport NY (pop. 6,000), they’ve transformed the Erie Canal to become a genuine destination for people and businesses. 20 years ago the area was mostly blighted as the old manufacturing in the village had declined but today it’s a vibrant and trendy place to live and do business.
And even in my last city, Kingsport TN (pop. 42,000) they have a plan to create a revitalization district that they were calling the Kings Port on the Holston. Interestingly, the idea grew out of a report prepared by local college students at East Tennessee State University.