I have made no secret of my enthusiastic support for the steps Amarillo has taken toward the revival of the city’s downtown business district.
It’s been dramatic and at some level actually breathtaking. The construction activity along Buchanan is a sight to behold. The Potter County Courthouse restoration is a thing of beauty. Polk Street looks healthier than it has in the past 20 years.
I am awaiting the groundbreaking of the downtown ballpark, which I hope occurs sometime this year — and that we’ll get some high-quality minor-league baseball in the shiny new venue.
Downtown’s revival, though, isn’t as comprehensive as perhaps it ought to be.
If you venture just a bit west along Sixth Avenue and north along Harrison, Tyler or Van Buren streets, you see signs of lingering urban blight.
Yes, we have that crappy-looking Barfield Building at the corner of Sixth and Polk. And the Herring Hotel building, which was supposed to have been sold to a deep-pocketed investor with big plans to bring it back to life? Well, that project has suffered another setback.
I am aware that the downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone has boundaries. The TIRZ area sets aside property value increases to develop downtown projects. A good bit of the area just outside those boundaries seems to cry out for attention.
Weeds are sprouting along sidewalks. Parcels of land have gone unattended.
It looks bad, boys and girls.
While I will continue to cheer on any and all efforts to revive downtown, which is essential to the city’s future growth — indeed, its very future — my hope is that attention can be focused on those areas just beyond the blocks that are getting all this tender loving care.
I will keep the faith that the city will spread its TLC to blocks in dire need of it.