Got a river running through your region? If so, consider yourself lucky — you have a valuable resource for pumping jobs, investment and life into your community. Cities across the U.S. are seeing the possibilities riverfront development can bring. Not only can it enhance livability, but it also has the potential to spur investment and attract new industries and businesses as well as visitors.
Take Columbus, Ga., for example. With help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the town has embarked on a plan to remove dilapidated dams along the Chattahoochee River to make way for a 2-mile free-flowing white-water park. The project is expected to restore the river’s aquatic life — and life downtown, where a riverwalk, bridges and loft apartments are being developed to allow spectators to watch the water action from the banks of the Chattahoochee.
“What the Corps sees as principally an environmental project, business and community leaders in Columbus see as an ambitious economic development project that will pump money into the local economy and help transform a downtown,” writes Dean Barber, a Texas-based economic development consultant, in a Site Selection article on water recreation as an economic catalyst.
Other communities benefiting from restoring and revitalizing their riverfronts include:
•Waco, Texas: The creation of a town lake, landscaped boulevards and a 6-mile riverwalk along the Brazos River has enlivened Waco’s once abandoned downtown. Residential lofts and riverfront shops and restaurants are being built along the Brazos, and more people are shopping, eating, working and living in downtown. Capitalizing on the river is key to the city’s future, says Chris McGowan, director of urban development for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. “Cities have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to recreate what we have naturally running through our city,” he says.
Read more about Waco’s riverfront renaissance at “Downtown Districts in the Heart of Texas Revitalized” on BusinessClimate.com.
•Chattanooga, Tenn. Over the past decade, Chattanooga has transformed itself into a riverfront destination, with a world-class aquarium, a popular pedestrian bridge and riverboat, parks, museums and a vibrant arts and entertainment district. When local power plant manufacturer Alstom asked to extend an existing riverwalk near the factory’s site into a greenway for employees, the city was happy to oblige. The gesture helped seal Alstom’s $300 million decision to expand in Chattanooga.
Got more stories of riverfront revitalizations and their impact on communities? We’d love to hear them. Please share below!