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I grew up in downtown Wilmington and saw it decline when Penny's and Belks moved to the mall and dirty book stores moved in, then saw a comeback in the mid 80's with a neat mix of shops and resturants. Having moved away in 1999, I came back to visit, last year and saw mostly bars, empty store fronts and had a couple of friends that got jumped near Princess Street while out one evening. Downtown Wilmington just looked tired and except for a bunch of drunks, drugs and not much else to offer. During the summer what used to be quiet evenings on the waterfront with a few professionals out enjoying the nightlife has turned into a nightly obnoxious and loud scene. Since leaving Wilmington I have lived in Charleston, SC and Philadelphia PA, where their downtowns have a good mix of shops, pubs and resturants and even major department stores such as Saks Fith Avenue, Macy's, Barney's, Tiffany & Co and so forth. Mom and Pop stores coexist in the retail mix and do quite well from the foot traffic. People still come downtown and do their shopping. Although I was against the Convention Center at first, Having lived in Philly The Pennsylvania Convention Center in the Old Reading Railroad terminal brings almost weekly a new group of tourist and their families each week. They fill hotel rooms and shop in my store during their downtime and pump alot of money into the local economy downtown. Hopefully the same will be for Wilmington if they can keep it booked. The Mayor and City Council should set up an economic task force to first lure retail back to downtown Wilmington, and make parking easier, maybe even free. Hopefully downtown will come back and be back to stay but it needs again to be cleaned up!
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