Yep, it’s a strange time to be thinking of tourist season — considering we’ve had maybe a half-dozen sunny days since last September.
I guess it was the closing of Java on Sherman this week that made me think of nicer weather ahead, and how “Charming Downtown Coeur d’Alene” is relentlessly marketed – not to mention the price you can pay for leaving that blessed little district.
David and Lindsay Patterson, who own Java, surely understand by now the distance between 324 Sherman Ave. and the corner of Eighth Street and Sherman.
In terms of doing business, it might be the longest four and a half blocks in Idaho.
The first address, where the Pattersons doled out coffee and treats until they were turfed out by the landlord, simply oozes that precious charm.
The latter location, as several previous failed renters can attest, might as well be in Montana.
SO WHERE exactly is our “Charming Downtown,” anyway?
Does it have actual borders?
Consider: Java on Sherman went bust, more or less, while the Bakery by the Lake — offering a reasonably similar menu — seems to be bustling right along at the corner of Sixth Street and Front Avenue.
That’s only a three-block difference, and yet Bakery by the Lake (perched on the bottom floor of the Parkside condo complex) is called “downtown” in most conversations.
Is it proximity to the lake itself that earns that critical “charming” award?
Or maybe the condo building, where distinctly posh units — the penthouse has been listed at $875,000 — is considered part of downtown.
Or it could be City Hall and the library, which are basically just a block closer to the water.
WHY DON’T we take a shot at putting borders on our Charm District — with the provision that these are simply guesses and you’re definitely entitled to dispute them?
Let’s go with the easy one first...
The lake itself is the southern border of downtown. I doubt anyone would argue with that.
On the eastern side, as the Pattersons sadly discovered, I’m going to say it would be Sixth Street — though you can make an argument for Seventh since there are crowded summer concerts in that very block on Sherman.
My boss thinks Northwest Boulevard should be considered the western edge of downtown, but I’m not conceding that.
I’ll say it’s Government Way, because cute older homes in that nice little triangular neighborhood between Milwaukee Drive and Government Way don’t fetch downtown prices.
Besides, what tourist is going to walk over there to see a couple of cemeteries?
FINALLY, we have the northern border.
True downtowners probably would say Coeur d’Alene Avenue, but I’m going to be more generous and extend our “Charm District” up to Wallace Avenue.
OK, now let’s wrap up this mapping (or marketing) exercise with an interesting debate.
I think Independence Point is absolutely considered downtown — that’s where tourists board the dinner cruise — while City Park is not.
Well, basically I’m considering where visitors might wander on foot as my rule of thumb.
Feel free to argue any point at all — but you might want to check with the Pattersons if you don’t believe there’s an invisible wall around downtown.
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Steve Cameron is a columnist and special assignment reporter for The Press. Reach Steve via email at email@example.com.