Assistance Program Helps Revitalize Conroe, Texas

By Spotswood, Kim | Nation's Cities Weekly, April 24, 2000 | Go to article overview

Assistance Program Helps Revitalize Conroe, Texas


Spotswood, Kim, Nation's Cities Weekly


Since last year, Conroe, Texas has developed a plan to revitalize its downtown that has already found success with an influx of retail outlets, a loan program for new facades, streetscape improvements and commitments from the community to improve public buildings.

In 1999, downtown Conroe experienced difficulty with parking, traffic flow, physical improvements, business retention and recruitment, and marketing. As a result, the city council of Conroe, Texas determined that an enhancement strategy was needed to revitalize downtown Conroe. To develop and implement that strategy, Conroe's city council took advantage of the America Downtown[R] --New Thinking. New Life. technical assistance program offered by the National League of Cities and HyettPalma, Inc.

According to Mayor Carter Moore of Conroe ".... The Chamber [of Commerce] asked the city to get involved in focusing on downtown's economic needs. To do this, the city turned to the America Downtown program, since we knew it was based on a market analysis. Together, the city and the Chamber are implementing the recommendations made through America Downtown. It's this partnership and commitment that are causing millions of dollars to be invested in downtown Conroe. We've just hired our economic development director, who will work on downtown, and so we're really moving ahead."

The revitalization of downtown Conroe is moving ahead. This is evidenced by a broad array of investments, improvements, and actions occurring in downtown. The following is a partial list of the investments and improvements that are in progress in downtown Conroe:

* Private improvement projects: a new Wells Fargo Bank, new Sonic, the soon-to-open new Walgreen's, a new restaurant, a new cafe and new boutiques.

* Public improvement projects: recent commitments to downtown Conroe made by the Chamber of Commerce and the county government in the form of their new buildings.

* Physical improvements: the city invested approximately $2,000,000 in new streetscape improvements and the facade loan program, created by the city of Conroe -- through which loans totaling $450,000 have been made to downtown property owners.

A series of discussions, focus groups, and meetings were held to define the community's preferred vision of downtown Conroe -- as it would ideally exist in the year 2007. Community members determined that by the year 2007, downtown Conroe would be a well-rounded downtown of retail boutiques, specialty shops, restaurants, outdoor cafes, entertainment, recreation, "a nice hotel," and "nice loft apartments." In addition, community members postured that government and attorney offices would be located downtown -- but downtown Conroe would also have a diverse mix of private businesses. Lastly, Conroe community members envisioned downtown Conroe to be known far and wide as having the following image: "A friendly, clean, and comfortable downtown with a diversity of businesses, restaurants and attractions that appeal to everyone. A model downtown that was enhanced with quality, long-lasting improvements and that has earned the support of its community--we did it right in downtown Conroe!"

To achieve this vision, HyettPalma developed a Downtown Action Agenda for the city of Conroe. Conroe Downtown Action Agenda 1999 includes actions recommended to capture Conroe's downtown market potentials. The following are just a few highlights of Conroe Downtown Action Agenda 1999.

Retail Market Opportunities

By taking steps to further enhance downtown Conroe, and assuming a healthy economy, it is conservatively anticipated that downtown has the potential to support the development of approximately 64,000 to 88,000 net square feet of additional retail space by the year 2007.

Office Market Opportunities

Between 50,000 and 75,000 square feet of additional office space can be supported in downtown Conroe between now and 2007. …

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