Editorial: Why the anti-Campustown sentiment?

Editorial Board

At first glance, the source of Campustown’s economic woes isn’t exactly apparent. Sure, there’s an abundance of bars and tattoo parlors, along with tanning and hair salons, but these businesses thrive. They fulfill a niche for their target demographics and are as close as a business could hope to be to their primary consumers.

We’re completely OK with pointing out that the slow, painful death of the Towers complex has left the area reeling. We think it’s absolutely unacceptable that the university has no future plans for the site involving student housing.

There’s been quite a bit of anti-Campustown sentiment from the Ames community in the last decade. It’s not hard to find examples of alumni waxing nostalgic about how things “used to be” in the area and what they’ve become. It’s unfortunate the community’s desire to economically revitalize the area has manifested itself as public support for the LANE4 redevelopment proposal. We’ve seen the plans ourselves and discussed them with Campustown business owners. This is the part where we point out that most establishments rent the buildings they occupy and that the decision to sell out ultimately lies with property owners.

Ask Campustown business owners and apartment tenants, and you’ll likely find most Ames landlords aren’t known for their sound, sensible business practices.

The compromise over the proposed Transportation Hub in Lot 60 is a prime example of what we feel is a joint attempt by the city of Ames and the university to expedite the downfall of Campustown, in favor of more family-friendly attractions proximal to campus.

The one and only hurdle existing for current business owners in Campustown is the complete lack of parking, or rather, the pyramid scheme masquerading as its current parking system.

Never mind the fact that the area is woefully inadequate in the number of spaces needed to facilitate proper business. We don’t care how you sell it to us, mandating that vehicles be moved at midnight generates revenue for the city, which is precisely why the ordinance exists.

The Transportation Hub could have provided a safe, secure venue for overnight parking and ample room for patrons of Campustown. Given the business incentives given for developments in west Ames, Somerset and downtown, we’re not surprised the project fell through.

Seeing the forest for the trees is realizing that the only people with any sort of affinity for Campustown are the students patronizing the establishments. Townies seem to consider it an eyesore, and the university seems to consider it a nuisance.

We’re glad the Department of Public Safety Parking Division has yet another venue to make its $25 per vehicle, while Campustown continues to tread water. This hub could have been an opportunity to revitalize Campustown, and we’re disappointed with the lack of commitment.