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Downtowns are improving all over the Midwest...but who is doing the best? It does not have to be the biggest or have the best sports arena, but it must include historic, preserved architecture, pedestrian activity and nightlife, a strong business and office prescence, and good arts and restuarants. You cant have tons of vacant or run down buildings and it must be well lit and safe without bums hanging out everywhere. An independent theatre and art gallery scene is a plus.

Please rank these cities: Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Saint Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Louisville, and Pittsburgh (major metros over 1 million).

The top 3 in my book are chicago, minneapolis, and indianapolis. From there, I really like Louisville at number 4 (a surprise to many if you havent been there in the last month or so). Saint Louis and KC are moving up fast, but due to the sheer geographic area their CBD encompasses and amount of vacant structures in their downtowns, they are still behind. I think Grand Rapids would be next, followed by Columbus, Cincy, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, milwaukee, and Detroit. Detroit is DEFINITELY dead last and chicago, minneapolis, and indy are definitely in the lead, but the rest are debatable.

Notice that the biggest downtowns with the biggest arenas arent always ranked the highest. Thats bc they appear very unsafe, dark, and full of bums in parts. And despite loft and condo conversions in all these cities, lets face it. The smaller the city, the less decay to clean up, the faster you can do it!! Certainly the larger downtowns like STL have the most potential--unless they keep tearing down historic buildings!!!!!
 

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The Jive is Alive.
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Gych, you need to do your homework. There are hardly any vacant buildings left in downtown STL (at least major buildings). Virtually ALL are under some phase of renovation or in the planning stages. My Midwest downtown potential rankings:

Chicago - already realized
Saint Louis - hometown bias, but also so many great buildings, great density, convenient rapid transit, sports, resurgent atmosphere, two major nightlife districts, a world-class landmark at its front door
Cleveland - see STL, without the monument and slightly less density
Detroit - the building stock makes me cream my pants, downtown is hooked up with the People Mover, but still a glut of beautiful vacant buildings
Minneapolis - great amenities, hasn't fallen as hard as many other cities, not quite as many historic buildings as some other Midwest 'burghs
Cincinnati - dense, charming, accessible, beautiful, although lacking rapid transit
Milwaukee - see Cincinnati; awesome lakefront
Kansas City - great buildings, nice setting, but no rapid transit, no sports presence
Indianapolis - highly centralized activity center, no rapid transit
Columbus - not very dense downtown, no rapid transit
Grand Rapids - don't know much about it

Louisville is a southern city, not Midwestern, so I won't even go there in this thread.
 

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ha, there was just a big article in the PD about how miserable cleveland'd downtown office market is (class A at 19%)
 

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My list goes 1.Chicago 2.Minneapolis 3.Detroit 4.St. Louis 5.Kansas City 6.Indianapolis 7.Cincinnati 8.Cleveland 9.Milwaukee 10.Columbus
The only downfall to some midwest cities is the downtown areas aren't that dense or they have large population but not that many skyscrapers. Minneapolis and St. louis have a great number of skylines for their size and they are pretty dense too.
 

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#1 Minneapolis /Nice and clean :)
#2 Chicago /Great architecture!!
#3 st louis /Fountains gardens stainless steel arches. :eek2:
 

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tä-gE
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Chicago
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everything else

you could probably combine every city on that list besides Chicago and Chicago would still win.
 

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Im only going to comment on the cities Ive been to

Chicago is #1. Given the size of this city it shouldnt be on the list as its not a fair comparison.

Milwaukee is maybe #2, given their interesting downtown, riverfront, and lakeside location. A bit dead, though.

Indianapolis...used to be blah, but the shopping mall and South Meridian is very very active, and alot of things are happening within the Mile Square that are really bouncing this downtown back from the dead. The residential/park developements along the old canal on the west end of downtown are amazing...remarkable example of adaptive use/revival of a derelict resource (the old canal).

Cleveland....not quite that dense, thought there is a very very active loft-conversion market going on immediatly adjacent to downtown, and now in downtown, too. Great gritty riverside area along the Cuyahoga, and a downtown college campus has potential to liven the place up. A Chinatown is developing east of downtown, too....Retail is iffy. Tower City is holding on, but declining. Big asset is rail transit connections w. the rest of the city...the only other city in the Midwest with an older rapid transit system.

Cincinnati...I like Cincy because of the density and urban feel, and there is still retail downtown. There are some very bad neighborhoods north of downtown, tho, which drags the place a bit.

Columbus...too "open"...too much parking lot mange... The had big mall downtown but its dying. The areas around downtown are very strong, though, so I think turnaround might be easier to pull off.


These two shouldnt be on the list as they are not midwestern:

Louisville,

Pittsburgh

But since they are:

Louisville has the worst downtown of the above. It is dead in terms of retail, and residential developement isnt as active or aggressive as the above. Alot of parking lots and bland open space, too.. Louisville suffers as it has a very hot scene in the neighborhoods that are somewhat removed from downtown (Clifton, Crescent Hill, Highlands), which detracts on action happening downtown. Cincinnati is a bit like this, too.



Pittsburgh has the best downtown of the list, aside from Chicago. Very dense, Retail is still solid, rail transit connections to the rest of the city, very little of the "parking lot plague", a and funky/gritty niteclub area ..Strip District...is immediatly adjacent. If it isnt happening alreday this downtown is primo candidate for loft conversions/donwntown living.
 

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Minneapolis - Currently undergoing a massive housing explosion. It also has huge corporations headquartered downtown. The best of all worlds. Except perhaps that there isn't much for someone visiting Minneapolis to do downtown. We have some shopping and some restaurants, but basically I can see a visitor being bored if they aren't into people watching, staring at magnificent skyscrapers, or art. Overall grade : A-

Milwaukee - Too drawn-out and anything but centralized. The actual "downtown" area is bland and uninviting. If they had tightened things up a bit like if downtown were closer to the lake and the attractions there, and perhaps if the new baseball stadium were closer, but if, if, if, don't pay the piper. Overall grade : D

Chicago - Please! It's Chicago. Everything you want is there. Overall grade : A+

Detroit - Detroit is starting to do things right with the stadiums downtown and corporations moving back and expanding downtown. But downtown Detroit still isn't someplace you want to be. It's merely someplace you go and do whatever you're doing (ballgame, meeting, work, gambling, opera, etc...) and then get the hell out. And shame on a city the size of Detroit for not having a better way for it's people to travel to and from the core of the city. Overall grade : D+

Grand Rapids - I know nothing about Grand Rapids, let alone it's downtown area.

Saint Louis - See Detroit, except on a smaller scale and with some mass transit. But unlike Detroit there are major plans for residential development. Overall grade : C

Kansas City - The actual CBD is dreary and stagnate. It is merely a place where men in suits work Monday through Friday from nine to five. If you take the KC'ers expanded downtown area (of like 20 square miles) there is signs of life with residential and attractions. Overall grade : D-

Indianapolis - Centralized, with a bit of a head start as compared to it's peers. Residential already established with much more on the way. And unlike Minneapolis it is a visitors haven. Plenty of things to do, safe, clean, vibrant. Overall grade : A

Cleveland - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, all of the stadiums, Terminal Place, the Flats. What happened? All of those wonderful 90's projects that started out so well and had such promise. Then it just seems like everybody just stopped and took a long nap. Overall grade : C+

Cincinnati - Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Other than sports stadiums and a new runaway slave museum, what is there in downtown Cincinnati that would have people in the suburbs wanting to come downtown on a Saturday? At least most of Cincinnati's major corporations are still located downtown. Overall grade : D

Columbus - The one thing that the two Ohio cities of Cincinnati and Columbus have in common. Except Columbus doesn't have as many downtown sports stadiums. Overall grade : D-

Louisville - I don't know anything about Louisville, let alone it's downtown area.

Pittsburgh - Stunning buildings and geography, with plenty of things to do in the downtown area. Vibrant outside of the M-F 9-5 times, but could use a little more residential. Overall grade : B+
 

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Ummmm, okay quickly. I'm not going to do the grades though. This way maybe the person in Grand Rapids that reads this won't be too upset. Because maybe Grand Rapids is last in my list but I'd give it a B, or maybe I would give it an F. You'll never know.

1 Chicago
2 Minneapolis
3 Indianapolis
4 Pittsburgh
5 Cincinnati
6 Cleveland
7 Detroit
8 St. Louis
9 Columbus
10 Milwaukee
11 Louisville
12 Kansas City
13 Grand Rapids
 

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gych said:
The top 3 in my book are chicago, minneapolis, and indianapolis. From there, I really like Louisville at number 4 (a surprise to many if you havent been there in the last month or so). Saint Louis and KC are moving up fast, but due to the sheer geographic area their CBD encompasses and amount of vacant structures in their downtowns, they are still behind. I think Grand Rapids would be next, followed by Columbus, Cincy, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, milwaukee, and Detroit. Detroit is DEFINITELY dead last and chicago, minneapolis, and indy are definitely in the lead, but the rest are debatable.

Notice that the biggest downtowns with the biggest arenas arent always ranked the highest. Thats bc they appear very unsafe, dark, and full of bums in parts. And despite loft and condo conversions in all these cities, lets face it. The smaller the city, the less decay to clean up, the faster you can do it!! Certainly the larger downtowns like STL have the most potential--unless they keep tearing down historic buildings!!!!!
Here we go again. What the hell is it with you dude? Why do you have such a bug up your ass about Saint Louis?

Downtown Lousiville better than downtown Saint Louis? Yeah, beacuse so many people go to downtown Louisville to, uh, well they uh, you see what they do is, it would involve uh, hey! What exactly do people do in downtown Louisville, other than watching the barges go past? I could go into everything that makes Saint Louis better than Louisville, but I don't want to waste my time since it wouldn't mean a thing to you. All you seem to enjoy doing is slamming Saint Louis with lies.
 

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being from grand rapids, i will shed some light on the city and i will keep it out of my rankings based on my subjectivity of my hometown.

#1 Chicago- by far, and I think Chicago today is what everyone in Detroit in the 30's & 40's thought Detroit would be like. nonetheless, Chicago is above and beyond the midwest's flagship city.

#2 Minneapolis - fantastic city and continuing to grow.

#3 Detroit - home state bias here, but there are few cities in the usa that has more amazing storied blds downtown. that strong base is there for such a strong city to emerge, its quite painful to see the growing pains.

#4 St. Louis - its has the same feel as detroit and chicago and have always loved the city when visiting.

the rest i havent been too, but based on what i've read...

#5 Indianapolis
#6 Pittsburg
#7 Cincinnati
#8 Kansas City
#9 Milwaukee
#10 Columbus
#11 Cleveland
#12 Louisville - its not midwestern

And for Grand Rapids, the city's downtown continues to grow with 100's of condos built/being built within the last five years. Plus for the city of our size (appox 200,000) there is a 31 story residential tower and new 22-story hotel tower that are both supposed to be built this year.

also light rail has been proposed, and the city's new art musuem is currently under construction. the advent of restaurants downtown has been great since the construction of our arena, however downtown retail is barley creeping along.

truly, within the last 10 years the development, growth, and potential has been amazing and will continue to revitalize the downtown area. based on the grand rapids' size im not sure it can ever truly compete against the likes of detroit/st louis/chicago etc, but based on the amount of growth downtown i would say that GR should be on the middle of that list.
 

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HennepinHen said:
Milwaukee - Too drawn-out and anything but centralized. The actual "downtown" area is bland and uninviting. If they had tightened things up a bit like if downtown were closer to the lake and the attractions there, and perhaps if the new baseball stadium were closer, but if, if, if, don't pay the piper. Overall grade : D

I'm kind of speechless after that.
 

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Milwaukee has the second best downtown in the Midwest, an aweseom lakefront on downtown, and also has the large urban East Side neighborhood abutting downtown. Milwaukee is also developing condos in its core faster than any other midwest city aside from Chicago - data as of Oct 2004. No other Midwest city, aside from my hometown with bias, can touch that.
 

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I'm going to do this here thing, but I ain't gonna piss anybody off. Impossible you say? Maybe, but I'm a go-getter and I'm gonna make it work. First off, no actual ranking or grades. Secondly, absolutely no definite commentary on any city. No blanket statements, ie this downtown has no nightlife. So you ask exactly what I'm doing with this response as I have ruled out all forms of reply? I shall merely pass along my personal experience visiting each of these downtowns with my family. So if I don't mention something wonderful about your city, it's simply because I didn't see it. And if I make an unkind remark, well, it's just because it happened to me and maybe it would never happen again, so it isn't any real slam against your city, as bad things can occur in any city at any time.

I will not comment on Indianapolis or Cincinnati as I have visited each downtown hundreds of times, and therefore experienced nearly everything.

Minneapolis : Big downtown with a big-city feel as you approach. But we didn't spend a great deal of time there as there is very little for a family with small kids (5 & 9 at the time) to do there. The park area near the art museums was pleasant and left us with nice feelings about downtown Minneapolis.

Milwaukee : There was little to nothing at all going on in the downtown downtown area on the day that we were there. I believe it was a weekend day and the only thing missing was blowing tumbleweeds. So, as you can guess, not many good feelings.

Chicago : Been there many times and enjoyed ourselves each time we've been. Happy vibes all around. Can't help but feel like Ferris Bueller - Twist and shout!

Detroit : My son and I have been twice. Once for a Tiger game at Tiger Stadium, and the next year for a Tiger game at Comerica Park. Big and beautiful downtown with amazing architecture and old buildings, but somewhat like a Hollywood soundstage. No soul, if that makes any sense. Or maybe it would be better to say no life. We had a good time at the games, but it was a little eerie away from the stadiums.

Cleveland : Have been a few times with my family and loved it each time. We've enjoyed ourselves with many things to do, and more importantly have always come away with a happy feeling about being there.

Columbus : There's nothing there. All we noticed were a block with an office building followed by a block of surface parking for that office building, and then another office building and more surface parking. We did go during a weekday so there was activity, which helped. But all in all we really had no feeling about it.

Pittsburgh : Stayed the weekend. Did the Science Center, and the submarine, and the incline, and Ft. Pitt, and tons more, and just hung out downtown eating and shopping. Noticed a nice area of very active nightclubs nearby, but with our kids with us we couldn't partake. Stayed at the Renaissance then went across the Roberto Clemente bridge on Sunday afternoon for a baseball game. Very happy experience and nothing went wrong the entire time we were there.

Louisville : Driven past many times but only actually visited once and that was very brief. Louisville Slugger museum and baseball game at their new ballpark. Again, not many feelings about it. It was a downtown and we visited and that was that.

Grand Rapids : Didn't spend much time in downtown. We researched it before we left and the few things for tourists to do in Grand Rapids were all just outside downtown to way outside downtown. Hard to get a feeling about a downtown with just a drive-by.

St.Louis : Spent most of our time near Forest Park, but of course did go downtown for the Arch. Made the mistake of going to Union Station with it's mostly closed shops and quite a few gang members or at least gang member wanna-bes. So outside of downtown we had good vibes, but downtown didn't leave us wanting more.

Kansas City : I've never been to downtown KC. I've driven through and I've been to Crown Center and that park, but never visited downtown.
 

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tä-gE
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qwerty1324 said:
Milwaukee has the second best downtown in the Midwest, an aweseom lakefront on downtown, and also has the large urban East Side neighborhood abutting downtown. Milwaukee is also developing condos in its core faster than any other midwest city aside from Chicago - data as of Oct 2004. No other Midwest city, aside from my hometown with bias, can touch that.
^ you sure about that claim?
 

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JivecitySTL said:
How did Pittsburgh wind up in the Midwest section yet again?

And Louisville? WTF?
Sorry Jive, just following along with everybody else. And those cities were among the cities that the thread originator asked for.
 

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The Jive is Alive.
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qwerty1324 said:
Milwaukee is also developing condos in its core faster than any other midwest city aside from Chicago - data as of Oct 2004.
Do you have that data?

qwerty1324 said:
No other Midwest city, aside from my hometown with bias, can touch that.
I thought your hometown was Boston?

HumbleHoosier said:
St.Louis : Made the mistake of going to Union Station with it's mostly closed shops and quite a few gang members or at least gang member wanna-bes.
I guess you're talking about St. Louis Centre, not Union Station. Union Station is 90% occupied and is a huge tourist attraction (gang members???). St. Louis Centre, on the other hand, is 90% vacant and a huge magnet for vagrants and street thugs.
 
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