UPDATE 3/6/12 @ 3:50 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Making downtown Charleston a viable place to do business was the big topic at the Tuesday's Municipal Beautification meeting.
The Charleston Urban Renewal Authority showed a presentation of what city leaders need to do to make the area more inviting for businesses and their customers.
Some of the proposals include adding more cafes with places for people to eat outside.
CURA also wants more trees and lamp posts along the streets and curbside parking.
Authority members say they would like to see more apartments added above a lot of the businesses in the area.
"Those people will become downtown full time customers for the businesses that are already here," Jim Edwards, Director of CURA said. "It's also a good way for taking advantage of vacant space that currently doesn't have another use."
Edwards tells WSAZ.com there are some major initiatives that would also help make Charleston more attractive. Those include converting one way streets into two ways and remodeling the front of buildings with new facades and window fronts.
Imagine Charleston is expected to revitalize and even create new opportunities for the Capital City.
One of the biggest things leaders emphasized Thursday; they want people who live in the city to get involved in imagining Charleston's future.
"If you don't have a dream there's no way to make your dream come true," Mayor Danny Jones said.
Craig Gossman is an architect drawing up plans to make the dream a reality.
"There are already things in motion, there are renovations here. There's a new hotel being planned, there's ideas floating about a convention center," Gossman said.
The work now is to find out what's next for Charleston as a whole, while focusing on how to enhance and promote downtown.
"There's currently now $65 million of projects that are well underway just in this downtown area near the river. That's extremely encouraging. Now the challenge with the community is how to we leverage that?” Community Development Director Susie Salisbury said.
In total: it'll take about 12 to 14 months to develop the plan that includes new businesses, renovate the civic center, downtown, the boulevard and much more.
"We're going to play off the projects that are happening now into new projects. Not all of that is brick and mortar, some of it might be reorganization structure."
The final hope, create a Charleston that's bigger and better than ever.
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