A group of local developers is about to embark on a major project in downtown Cape Girardeau.
The 20-million dollar Marquette Tech District will involve a technology business incubator and retail establishments in the recently renovated Marquette Tower on Broadway and the renovation of the historic H and H office building across the street for a new Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
Developer Jeff Maurer says the latter will involve a lot of work and money.
"To take that building that was built in the early 1900's, and built as commercial office, and re-purpose that for a hotel...a modern hotel."
Maurer says he has commitments for a majority of the project's cost through private investments and bank financing. He says more investors are ready to come aboard and there will hopefully be come public financing as well.
"We have a TIF application that we're going to be submitting to the City of Cape for the district they created earlier this year, I guess. We also are planning to apply for historic tax credits for federal and state. And, we've talked to a couple of trusts that have some federal allocations of new market tax credits."
James Stapleton is the founder of the incubator Codefi, which will anchor the Marquette Tower for tech start-ups.
"Our technology incubator will be here, which will bring 40+ companies with it. But, there are also local, technology based companies who are interested in relocating here. We're cranking up three restaurants, so there's a lot of activity here."
Stapleton says Cape Girardeau met the needs of past generations by spending money on infrastructure needs. He says this project will meet the needs of current and future generations who rely heavily on technology.
"People who are looking for a place to locate and find these kinds of incentives and talent, can now look to downtown Cape Girardeau to do that."
He says the development should greatly benefit Southeast Missouri State University and the region as a whole.
"Obviously one of the challenges young people are facing now with our economy is where they, sort of, find footing in terms of employment. So, we think this provides not only the opportunity for the university to attract more technology-based students, but also when the students graduate, to help create the companies that will keep them here."
Stapleton says his firm is starting a side project called Code Cape. It will be an after school and summer program to teach young people how to build software applications.
Another key component of the project is to provide Gigabit internet speed to each tenant of the incubator and free Wi-Fi throughout downtown Cape Girardeau.
Developers hope to complete the Marquette Tech District in 18 months.