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Main Street opportunity

Jun 21, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

A vacant lot on a downtown street corner comes along very, very rarely

The demolition of the old gas station building at the northwest corner of Fifth Street East and East Main Street in downtown Riverton is a genuine curiosity to all who see it.

This simply is not something we will witness very often. In fact, we invite any longtime citizen to recall the last time a major downtown intersection had a vacant lot on it.

More than the curiosity of it is the opportunity.

It's safe to say that it has been decades since a major street corner lot was both empty and for sale. But that's just what we'll have now that lot has been cleared and if the city goes ahead with a plan to put the land on the market.

Riverton acquired the land and its vacant building some months ago and has kicked around ideas on what to do with it ever since. Ideally, it would fetch a fair price on the open market from a buyer who had good intentions for it and would follow through with those intentions.

The city has put forth some ideas for retaining the site as well, perhaps a downtown rest area with seating and green space in addition to a clean public restroom.

A parking area also is suggested by some, but others note that the city already has a much larger, convenient free parking lot just one block away that is used but not as fully as it could be.

The work to tear down the old building and prepare the empty lot for its next use has taken place directly across the street from our newspaper office, and we can vouch for how interesting it has been to the many people who have happened by for a look, then stopped to talk awhile about the corner, its past uses and its potential.

Might a goal be set that the lot be put to productive use within a specified time? Getting it done within a year seems reasonable.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for the next developer of the site, a blank downtown slate the likes of which may ever come again. Whatever happens to it, let's do it right.

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