Downtown Development Steering Committee members meet with city consultants

WICHITA FALLS - The push to build a vibrant downtown is underway but now, with some outside perspectives. At the Downtown Development Steering Committee meeting Friday morning, city officials met with consultants for downtown development.

"I come down here and do a lot of photography and I just like the uniqueness of it." As a photographer, Kim Woods says she's taken advantage of the up and coming scenery downtown and as a Wichita Falls resident, she says a lot has changed in her 17 years here.

"They're modernizing it a lot," Woods said. "Of course all our roads down here have all been redone and stuff so I like it."

Woods says there is always room for more improvement. That's why the DDSC is officially in the works with Texas consultants.

"I know that often times people think, 'oh there's not really anything in downtown' but there are a lot of things that the city has done over the years," Urban Planning and Design Vice President Wendy Shabay said.

Shabay is with Freese and Nichols, a consulting firm based in Fort Worth. She says they worked on concepts such as urban design, marketing, transportation and business development back in 2007. Now, they're wanting to zero in the current momentum of downtown with the city.

"[The city] has done a lot of the street scapes from the last plan but there's certainly plenty more to do," Shabay said. "So going further with that and coming up with new concepts of streets and cool areas where people want to be."

While the streets are a big priority, Shabay says they will run a diagnosis on code enforcement to clean out and fill up empty buildings and take a closer look a the best ways to finance future revitalization efforts.

"We're coming in now to really dive in to a few key components to take that further to implementation," Shabay said.

New Wichita Falls business owners like Daniel Trebilcock are eager to see more developments in the heart of his new town. 

Wichita Falls just has that explosion waiting to happen," Trebilcock said. "The potential growth is just huge down here and for a new business owner that's revitalizing. That's really intensive. I like that." 
 
Freese and Nichols plans to meet with three subcommittees of the DDSC once a month for the next year.


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