Friday, September 19, 2008

What a Difference a Year Makes

Exactly one year ago next Saturday, I walked down Washington Avenue to attend an after-work function at the Renaissance Hotel. On my way, I passed the grand opening celebration for Pyramid’s Laurel condominium development at the former Dillard’s Building. The Laurel’s stylish sales office had just opened, and for the first time since Dillard’s closed – about eight years – life had returned to the building. New awnings were installed in front of the sales center, and shrubs and flowers filled large pots that lined its perimeter. Sixth Street was closed off, and a band was playing to a huge group of partiers. The one section of Washington that’s normally dead was so lively, and I remember feeling extremely happy and optimistic that this important project was finally about to get underway.

What a difference a year makes.

With Pyramid going out of business, the fate of this project has been up in the air for several months now. Pyramid’s partner, Spinnaker, pledged to complete the project, and there was talk of adding an Embassy Suites hotel to the mix. Over 20% of the condos had been reserved, and despite Pyramid’s demise and the difficult market conditions, it was looking as if everything was still going to come to fruition. Sadly, the sales office closed this week.

Despite any official announcement from Spinnaker, it’s looking like we’re back to the drawing board on this one. Will someone step up and carry the torch on this project? I’m still optimistic that things will turn around, but it certainly ain’t easy being a downtown booster sometimes.

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