A few weeks ago, residents of Springfield, Missouri, filled out a survey in which the city asked what sort of improvements they wanted along the long-neglected Kearney Street corridor.
Kearney Street was a part of Route 66 and for many years was considered the “cruising capital of the world.”
St. Louis-based PGAV recently presented the survey’s results to the city council. According to a report from the Springfield News-Leader, residents said these were among the things they wanted on a revitalized Kearney Street:
- Sit-down or Route 66-themed restaurants
- Reviving cruising events
- A microbrewery
- Local or independently owned retailers
- Family-friendly venues such as a bowling alley, a miniature golf course, a skating rink or a movie theater
- Music venues at bars or restaurants
- Better conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists
After being a happening place for decades, Kearney has devolved into a corridor with a bunch of fast-food restaurants, aging properties and little else.
The newspaper reported what the survey aims to do:
A team from PGAV has been working since November to assess the physical conditions of properties along Kearney, between Glenstone Avenue and Kansas Expressway. Team members also analyzed the housing and retail markets as well as gathered public feedback.
They will identify specific properties along the corridor that are best situated for successful development, then create a plan of how the city can incentivize and promote growth.
City Council allocated $100,000 to the study, out of money left over from a previous year’s budget.
Final recommendations from PGAV are expected in April.
Jenny Ryan, a project manager with PGAV, said something during the hearing about Route 66 that got my attention:
Ryan responded that interest in Route 66 from international visitors may continue, but overall she thinks its popularity will decrease over time.
“(Cruising) is not going to save your corridor,” Ryan said. “Do my kids care about Route 66? I don’t think so.”
I disagree the interest of Route 66 will fade. I’ve found over the years worldwide interest in the Route 66 — literal and figurative — continues to grow because it left such an indelible effect on popular culture.
And if Route 66 eventually becomes a National Historic Trail — as I expect — interest in the Mother Road will continue to grow.
(Image of the Rest Haven Court on Kearney Street in Springfield, Missouri, by Jim Grey via Flickr)