Potter County is in the game to rehabilitate downtown Amarillo.
And why not? The downtown district sits entirely within Potter County. The county will derive direct benefit from whatever accrues from downtown’s revival — assuming, of course, that it ever gets going.
The Commissioners Court voted 3-2 Monday to approve a tax abatement for the Coca-Cola Distribution Center, which now paves the way for the center to vacate downtown for a new site at CenterPort Business Park. The county will forgo tens of thousands of dollars in annual tax revenue from Coke. It will gain — again, hoping for the best — much more in return as downtown kick starts its revival.
That revival is supposed to include a “multipurpose event venue,” or MPEV, a parking garage and a convention hotel.
It’s supposed to cost $113 million, which developers hope will come from private investors who’ll just be delighted to death to sink their money into these projects.
I truly hope it happens. I believe the downtown project has enormous potential for the city.
Just imagine Amarillo’s minor league baseball team, the Sox, playing home games in a shiny new venue other than that rat-hole facility next door to the Tri-State Fairgrounds.
Potter County’s continued foot-dragging, though, is problematic.
I applaud commissioners for seeking to perform due diligence on the project. The “no” votes came from commissioners Alphonso Vaughn and Mercy Murguia, both of whom have demonstrated a willingness to ask difficult questions of sometimes-recalcitrant principals.
The county, though, ought to stand arm-in-arm with the city on this matter. The city is taking the lead on the development, but the county also has skin in this game, given that downtown rests entirely within Potter County.
I’ll stand by my earlier blog post and wonder when they’re going to start construction on this project. I’m getting a tad impatient, as I’m sure many other observers have become anxious for the work to begin.
All in all, though, the county made the right call. Now, let’s fire up the bulldozers.