PROGRESS 2021 | Main Street Texarkana sees bright future for downtown
It’s a good time for Main Street Texarkana, and the Twin Cities’ greatest advocate for economic development through historic preservation – especially the downtown area – sees even better times ahead.
Big projects grab the headlines, but positive changes are also happening in a smaller-scale downtown, Main Street board chairman James Bright and executive director Ina McDowell said in interviews recent. It all adds up to a rebirth of Texarkana’s most visible historic district.
This year is Main Street’s 15th active in Texarkana, and McDowell has seen a lot of changes during his tenure.
“We’ve all seen a lot of progress, and it has definitely improved in recent years,” she said.
“What is most obvious that we see is the work at the post office and the courthouse, as well as at the Hotel Grim, the former building of the National Bank of Texarkana and the building of the Bank of Regions. they are fully occupied, are going to bring a huge amount of traffic into our downtown area.
“So we’re seeing more small businesses, and that’s a lot of what I’m doing is working with people who are interested in opening a business or expanding. For example, Beauty Barr who just moved to a new location.
Bright, who works as the managing director of the Texarkana Gazette, is also seeing the transformation.
“You can see a pretty seismic shift in businesses, local residents and Texarkana in the general opinion of the city center, and this is leading to a lot of interest in development and new possibilities. Not just in the realm of events. – of course we “We are always looking at event opportunities and new things we can bring to the community – but also into new retail and dining opportunities and new entertainment spaces.
“I’ve only been in Texarkana for a little over two years, but I understand the downtown area has struggled a bit. And I think time is passing and what we are seeing is almost a rebirth of the downtown area. city, ”Bright said.
Main Street supports downtown redevelopment in a variety of ways, including participating in Downtowntx.org, a website that highlights properties available in a number of downtown Texas. The Texarkana page lists over 20 buildings, and Main Street also hosts “Imagine the Possibilities” tours of properties to show them to potential investors.
“We give grants. We give revolving loans at low interest rates. We provide free renderings, if you are looking for an idea of how a business might fit into an old building downtown. We are working with individuals to do this, ”McDowell said.
“We have several in the works right now, even people who have been downtown for a while and want to bring their building back to what it originally looked like as much as possible. And so we have a part of it. that’s even happening on Broad Street right now and starting to take its toll. “
She highlighted recent victories for the downtown area, such as the ongoing move of KLFI-TV to a renovated old bus station on North State Line Avenue and West Fourth Street, as well as Main Street funding for new work. painting for Mission Texarkana, West Fourth and Elm. streets.
Main Street has been as challenged as everyone by the COVID-19 pandemic, but McDowell sees a silver lining.
“People have stayed closer to home, and they are taking the time to explore and realize what we have here in our downtown area. So I think that has really been a benefit to us. Although COVID was not a good thing we did. We have certainly seen some positives with our community and the way people are coming back to downtown and supporting our local businesses, ”she said.
Main Street’s fundraising took a hit last year when its flagship event, Dine on the Line, had to be canceled due to the pandemic. The event raises funds by selling tickets to a dinner at downtown North State Line Avenue. The Main Street board is looking for ways to bring Dine back on the Line in some form or another in October.
Meanwhile, more fundraisers are in the works, including an outdoor arts event scheduled for May 21 downtown and featuring local artists doing their work in public.
“We’ve sent letters, we’re going to do phone canvassing, and hopefully start to see some revenue coming back to Main Street. We are looking at new events and how that could potentially generate income on Main Street, but also provide entertainment for the community, ”said Bright, adding that the annual Christmas Parade Main Street sponsors and hosts is definitely underway for 2021. .
He hopes more and more Texarkanians will come back to an appreciation of what downtown has to offer.
“I think there are people in Texarkana who probably haven’t been downtown in years and are totally unaware of the changes that have taken place over the past year in this area. And now would be a really good time to take a trip here, “he said.
“Look around. Imagine what it can become. And I think over the next two, three, four or five years you can really see it transform into a neighborhood that not only all Texarkana could be proud of. , but other cities would be. envious of. He’s miles from where he’s been. “