Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cairo

So, Cairo...

In answer to the questions:

Some of the houses have sat empty for a year or more, some a few weeks. But housing prices are so depressed that those prices are the going rate in Cairo. We were talking to a woman we met when we were watching an old wreck being torn down, and she told us she'd bought 5 properties in the last couple of years, one for $1000. Some are in move-in condition for $15,000 in nice neighborhoods. Some need a LOT of work, a lot of them should just be torn down. We've been looking at a three story 5400 sq. ft. house on EIGHT city lots for $52,000. it's gorgeous...you could live in it today without doing anything but painting (it's a little...um...overdecorated).

There's a tremendous amount of work involved in turning a blighted city around. The downtown area is deserted except for some squatters, hookers and crack houses. It's going to take a lot of vision and some big scary guys to reclaim those buildings. And it'll take more than, say, one little 5 foot tall, classically trained caucasian chef and her dream of a bistro, and a couple of overbearing dykes and their brewpub to get people to think of the downtown area as a viable place to spend their money. The barge business seems to be thriving, but we're too old to be deckhands. Darn...it's got a pirate-like sort of mystique, don't you think?


You know how we are...we'll talk to anyone. So we've interrogated the locals and they pretty much all tell us that the town has been a cash cow for a few local politicians for the last two decades. Since most of their voter base was coming from the empty lots and the cemeteries, they always won landslide victories in the city elections. But in the face of several local scandals the incumbents chose to leave office (and, coincidentally, the county) and the city has been doing massive cleaning up in their wake. In the last couple of years we've noticed marked improvement...the derelict houses and buildings are being torn down, there's grant money to be had for start-up businesses, and the neighborhoods look more prosperous. We talked with a local bank manager and she told us that money is beginning to flow again, and they tend to keep their loans in-house so that people with crappy credit can come to Cairo and buy houses and own businesses and help start the city moving again.


It's sort of like Rip Van Winkle-ish. Cairo's been sleeping since 1969, but it's starting to wake up, and it's a little confused.

The nearest real cities are Cape Girardeau, MO, It's 30 miles away, and Paducah, KY, the same distance in the other direction. St. Louis is two hours north, Memphis is two hours south, Nashville is two hours east, and some place that looks like Deliveranceville, MO is two hours west. I recommend that you NOT spend much time there unless you're related to the locals.

We're excited about the idea of helping to rebuild a community, and make something nice from the ashes of something awful. And we like the barbecue.

4 comments:

CEDARFLAME said...

If I were younger, or lived in that area. I would move there.

Kwach said...

We'd love to recruit as many of our gay and lesbian friends as possible. Come on down to visit and we'll make you fall in love with it.

:)

Linda said...

Cool you guys! What a great project.

Jazz said...

Well, if the barbeque is good...

I wish I could.