From Helen Marshall:
I have reflected all week about last week’s giant fiesta, Chalk the Block, which took over most of downtown last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We foolishly tried to go downtown on Saturday, allowing double the normal time to get there and park to have our anniversary dinner at Anson’s. Ha! The traffic on Mesa was packed as we crossed I-10 and then we hit the intersection of Mesa and Franklin, blocked by drivers going west. There was no sign of traffic control. When we eventually reached Main we saw that it was blocked to the west, so no way to get to the parking garage (which may have been full anyway). We turned east and hit more roadwork. After several more failed efforts to find parking we escaped north and had dinner somewhere else!
Later I read in the Times that this festival has a claimed $1 million impact on the downtown. Not sure how anyone measures this. Let’s see now – 4 hours on Friday and Sunday, and 12 hours on Saturday, a total of 20 hours. Festival goers were spending nearly $50,000 per hour downtown? Where??? Buying what??? The food trucks were not “downtown businesses.” In any case, the event caused a downtown restaurant to lose our business…
Maybe future Chalks will be held in the Arena – although given the stated intent to provide no parking for the Arena, downtown is likely to be a mess when there is an event there, especially if there is a baseball game, and perhaps a show at the Plaza. Or do they intend to coordinate to insure that there is never more than one event on the same night?
Meantime, the impetus to go downtown is fading and even the end of the Trolley work might not revive it.