A plan approved this week could jump-start efforts that city officials consider the groundwork for major renovations in downtown La Marque.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation moved forward with efforts to develop a downtown revitalization plan and eventually implement those recommendations.
The economic development board Thursday approved a $25,500 contract with the Texas A&M University Coastal Watershed Program for a three-phase revitalization planning project.
The revitalization efforts will be focused on Laurel Street between Bayou Road and Yupon Drive and First Street between Bayou Road to Highway 3.
Other cities in the county, including Texas City, have done similar plans for their downtown and shopping districts.
“The City of La Marque has a vision of a vibrant corridor in their historic downtown,” spokeswoman Colleen Merritt said. “Drawing from the design and urban streetscape of historic neighborhoods, this effort will be driven by the principles of place-making, walkability and accessibility.”
The Texas Coastal Watershed Program contends its plan would help refocus development in La Marque’s downtown, according to a proposal submitted to the city.
Planners will first compile a report of existing conditions and host several community meetings to determine what improvements are most important to residents, said John Jacob, an extension specialist leading the project.
The team will host about five community meetings to create a package of renderings for how the city could improve its downtown, he said. The team will put together a short-term and long-term implementation plan.
“We’ll do renderings of what the streetscapes could look like based on what we learn in community meetings,” Jacob said.
“It won’t be a detailed revitalization plan, more like a vision,” Jacob said. “We’re not here to tell people what to do, but to show them alternatives.”
Business owners had not yet heard about the plans but already had some ideas.
More strict enforcement of building owners about curb appeal and building appearances could improve the area and attract visitors and new business, said Tiffiny Hampton, who recently opened Kingdom Kids Preschool on Laurel Street and leases a building.
“More landlords need to take time to give some of the buildings face-lifts,” she said. “They definitely need some up-keeping. I did a ton of work myself to get the building just to where it needed to be.”
The city could do stricter code enforcement requiring landlords to keep up with the buildings downtown, Hampton said.
She would also like to see more advertising of what’s downtown. For example, in Galveston the city’s economic development organizations frequently promote The Strand and businesses there, she said.
“There should be some way, on social media o through fliers or events, to promote the businesses we have down here and tell people about us,” Hampton said.
A website is being developed to track the revitalization efforts and progress, Merritt said.