Downtown Wichita Falls Development celebrates 20th anniversary

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A non-profit, with the goal of beautifying downtown Wichita Falls, is celebrating a big milestone.

20 years ago today Downtown Wichita Falls Development was incorporated, and since then, members have made a huge and very successful effort to preserve historical buildings while also building a better downtown.

“The people that started Downtown Development had a great vision on what we should be and we’ve stuck to that,” Downtown Wichita Falls Development Executive Director Jana Schmader. “I think right now, thinking back over the last 20 years, 20 years ago there wasn’t a lot in downtown.”

Since its inception on April 17, 2000, Downtown Wichita Falls Development has made it its mission to change that and make downtown Wichita Falls something people are proud of once again.

“To build a well-rounded city, you have to have a downtown,” Schmader said. “That’s what people want. So, between parks and recreation, arts and culture, your downtown, that’s what builds a good community. You have to build a place that people want to come to.”

One thing Wichita Falls has become known for is its art community, but that wasn’t always the case.

“You’ve really seen the art scene come on the last 6-8 years,” Schmader said. “The community really bought into it. There was a study put out where to build a well-rounded community you have to include the arts. So, that’s really something the community as a whole has embraced and then of course downtown that’s what people want, they want that art, that culture, that entertainment.”

COVID-19 has forced Downtown Wichita Falls Development to change how they celebrate this big 20- year occasion. One thing they decided to do was to have local musical artists submit videos of them performing and on Friday night on their Facebook page they held a virtual concert.

“Obviously we’re not playing any gigs right now,” musician Dusty Potter said. “There’s not a lot going on as far as events so this is a fun way to help downtown and get in front of people we love to play for.”

While celebrating their many accomplishments from their first 20- years, Schmader can say with confidence, they’re far from done.

“We’ve really since buying the building have turned more to strategic economic development now,” Schmader said. “So, it’s really matching those properties to investors and making sure that we are building a well-rounded downtown.”

A downtown where more and more, the public finds exactly what it’s looking for, and every storefront is busy and full.

Schmader also said they plan to have a belated birthday party later in the year when people are allowed to attend in person.

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