With the demise of GRO-Warren, it appears that economic development efforts for the city's downtown have coasted to a stop.
Warren Main Street continues to operate as a downtown promotional entity, and we applaud their efforts as a group of dedicated unpaid volunteers. They are coming up with ideas for downtown events and smoothing the way for commerce in the city's center.
The Allegheny Center for the Arts, another group of dedicated and unrecompensed volunteers, are moving forward without the dedicated edifice they were promised more than a year ago.
Gone are the grand plans for major reconstruction.
And, perhaps that's not such a bad thing.
Perhaps it's time for the city to step back and take a breath, to consider its future not in terms of major projects that rely heavily on state grants and guaranteed loans, but rather in terms of what we as a community can do to infuse a sense that this downtown is a good place to walk around and enjoy.
Streetscape Phase I is now complete and presents a pleasant environment for casual visitors. Warren Main Street and the ACA can and will capitalize on that. If the next phases of that capital improvement campaign never materialize, it will not make the first phase a failure if it is fully utilized.
We're not saying the city should not welcome with open arms a private developer intent on building downtown. We're just saying, let's not entangle city government and the taxpayers who fund it in partnerships that require venture capital from the public till.
And, above all, make sure the public is on-board with the ideas by keeping the public informed every step of the way.