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Forecast bright for Hagatna development

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by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - In the last decade, there have been a number of efforts to redevelop the once vibrant capital of Hagatna and with the military buildup on the horizon economists like dean of University of Guam's School of Business and Public Administration Dr. Anita Enriquez have thoroughly researched the importance of the arts, restaurants, shopping activities, culture and accessibility to downtown's attractiveness. 

For baby boomers ages 50 to 59 and millenials ages 20 to 29 (who will make up 44 million people across the U.S. by 2015), downtown living certainly has an appeal and with the economic crisis affecting most of the Continental U.S., Dr. Enriquez says investors and city planners on Guam are optimistic about a bustling and vibrant economy developing in Hagatna once again.  "Millennials in general love the sense of community and they also want activities that are lively. They want to get away from suburbs so to speak and to be where friends are hanging out," Enriquez explained.

For baby boomers and millenials alike, the downtown area is an attractive destination. Dr. Enriquez says her research grew out of her love for the iconic downtown. Dr. Enriquez recently completed a comprehensive report on restoration and redevelopment efforts underway for downtown Hagatna, which focuses on ways to grow economic diversification on island and the best way to promote Guam's culture in the capital.

She continued, "In this study it was important to gauge what the market demand would be for downtown activities. Downtown across the U.S. there are various efforts taking place regards to revitalization."

The need to restore and redevelop Guam's capital is something the Guam Visitors Bureau and the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association is working on with a focus on making it a more attractive cultural destination that appeals to both Guam's emerging businesses' as well as tourists.

President of the GHRA Mary Torre said her organization, "Has been working with the Department of Chamorro Affairs with respect to Chamorro Village and the Wednesday Friday night markets that we have there but also revitalizing that for more day time ops so that tour companies can go there during the day."  For her, downtown's appeal is well on its way with a resurgence of actual restaurants going up around the Hagatna area, but for residents, it's clear what is lacking.

John Rousan Jr. told KUAM News of the potential for Hagatna, "I say more amusements, the theaters are always filled up," with Clifford San Nicolas saying, "As a resident I'd like to see a park replaced at the Agana Pool area where the kids can have fun."

And making sure to keep the capital safe and family friendly with well lit sidewalks and streets makes for a more welcoming downtown - that attracts generations across the board and follows a national trend of moving from suburbanization towards urbanization.

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