I am likely to get the sequence slightly mixed up, but I’m trying to assemble the series of positive steps that have been taken in downtown Amarillo.
— The city commissions a study to assemble a Strategic Action Plan
— It conducts a series of public hearings.
— The City Council approves the plan and then approves creation of agencies dedicated to crafting a strategies to bring the district back to life.
— Debate ensues and it becomes quite, um, lively about the direction the city is taking.
— Three new council members join the governing body after a contentious municipal election campaign.
— The Local Government Corporation agrees to proceed with plans to build a multipurpose event venue, according to the wishes of voters who endorsed the concept in a citywide referendum.
— Construction begins on a convention hotel and a parking garage.
— Now comes the latest bit of good news, which was announced today at noon: plans for new restaurants that will go into the Woolworth Building on South Polk Street.
I’ve likely missed a few points along the way.
But I do sense continuing momentum in the effort to reshape, reconfigure, rehabilitate, revive and restore the city’s downtown business district.
Let’s face the blunt truth here. Downtown has been a moribund place for a good while. My own personal observation of the district, dating back to early 1995 when I first arrived in Amarillo, tells me that downtown is in far better shape than it was when my wife and I arrived here.
I get that there are many more hills to climb. The city must find a new council member to succeed Brian Eades, who’s planning to resign from the council this summer. That selection process has hit a few bumps along the way.
The city is negotiating with a baseball franchise to relocate its operation to Amarillo, where it will play ball at a planned baseball park to be built at the site of the now-vacant Coca-Cola distribution center.
But we’ve heard about convention business already being booked because of the convention hotel’s pending arrival on the scene. City and civic leaders have told us for years about all the convention business the city has lost because of a lack of appropriate nearby lodging for conventioneers.
Is all this activity connected? Is it related to the city’s efforts to resuscitate its downtown district?
It looks that way to me.
To be honest, I am puzzled by the chronic gripers who keep saying all this is somehow bad for Amarillo.