The people rule. A controversial proposal to rename East Third Street from Main Street to Heifer International River Market Avenue is apparently dead. That doesn't mean the street's name might not change to something else somewhere down the line.
Others in the neighborhood, particularly along Clinton Avenue, home of the namesake River Market, had organized opposition to the change, fearing it would harm their part of the neighborhood. People along Third favored the change as a stimulus to business there.
Rusty Matchett, a property owner who's been working in opposition to the name change, which had won Planning Commission approval and awaited City Board action, said Sharon Priest of The Downtown Partnership told a group meeting yesterday that the name change was dead. Mayor Mark Stodola also spoke and said the change faced strong opposition on the City Board.
Backers of the proposal thought they could muster six votes on the City Board for the name change, but asked for a compromise because they thought the resulting ill will in the neighborhood wouldn't have been worth it. The Moses-Tucker real estate firm, with major condo projects on Third, had led the effort, along with Priest's group, for the name change.
Instead of a street name change, an idea was floated to install new signage throughout the district emphasizing the River Market District, as shown above. "A win win," Matchett said.
Matchett also said there's continuing discussion of an idea that most in the neighborhood seem to support. That would be changing the name of a stretch of Commerce Street, which deadends on the north at the River Market, to River Market Avenue. It would require a replay of the process of signing up people on the street and going through a city review. The idea would be to change the name from Clinton Avenue to Capitol Avenue, about four blocks, and cover addresses that include the Hampton Inn and the Capital Commerce Center.
Finally, I've learned that a name change for East Third is still possible, if to something less objectionable to neighbors than River Market Ave. A change of the name to Third Avenue might be possible by city staff change, reported. The Downtown Partnership and the River Market Neighborhood Association agreed to continue working on a name for the street that would identify it as part of the district.Priest told me later that the street name change was part of a broader strategy to build the neighborhood -- signage, expansion of district boundaries to Main on the west and Capitol on the south, art work and other improvements. She said it was a shame the name change debate had dominated the discussion so far.