"If 26 vacant properties were developed to their fullest, we could see another $40 million in property values," said Amy Surdam, the executive director of The Downtown Development Authority. That's the group with a goal to actually improve downtown.

Amy’s latest idea is a vacant building registry, requiring those who own them to register, to meet minimum care guidelines. Obviously, aging downtown is a problem.

At least we can offer 5 buildings we think should never have been vacant:

  1. The Carey Building. The former Z's Home Furnishings store was built in 1876 by Joseph Carey, and quickly became a hub of commerce. What would it take to see that again? At the corner of Carey Avenue and 17th Streets, it's now over 126,000 square feet of echo.
  2. The old steam-powered electric plant at 800 West 17th Street accounts for about 69 percent of the overall warehouse space available, at 25,940 square feet.
  3. The Hynds Building. Shortly after the Inter Ocean Hotel had been razed, Harry Hynds contracted architect William Dubois to design a state-of-the-art office building. It still hosts an art gallery and concerts on the ground floor, but the upstairs levels are empty.  At 1602 Capitol Avenue, tack on 39,000 square feet.
  4. The Bell Building. The old home of the telephone company, turned hotel, turned nothing. At 1605 Central Avenue, there's another empty 18,644 square feet.
  5. The Paramount Building.  May not be on this list much longer. Owner Phil Herrick recently completed a major remodeling project upstairs. He painted office spaces and installed new carpet and windows, and the building is ready for prospective renters. Yay, now when can we look forward to them?