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.

Contact reporter Marissa Barnett at 409-683-5257 or marissa.barnett@galvnews.com.

Senior Reporter

(4) comments

Lois J Carelock

Why not include Bayou from Laurel to Cedar Drive?

George Croix

Standing a few feet further east to take the picture of the 'shops' would have been more visually informative.

Fifty years ago one could have taken all the shops in 'downtown' LM and everywhere else in it and placed them side-by-side and just about filled up the area currently occupied by the Kroger/McD's/old BP bldg/strip mall in TC.
Now there are even less in LM to fill with.
A BIG reason for that is the change of LM schools from institutions of learning and state recognized excellence into sports first/academics second community driven focus and ultimately a politically correct experiment in incompetent social engineering...with the attendant foot traffic to Anywhere Else for those who could afford to go there.
Perhaps in time, new middle class and up families will return if the schools improve and continue to get better.....until then, it makes little sense to do the same thing over again expecting a different outcome.....

Mike Trube

I don't care how many revitalization programs the city wants to do. No one is coming to this city for any reason until it is cleaned up. One of the worse decisions council made was to put the responsibility of the ROWs on the backs of the citizens. I still see ditches with trees growing in them. This goes to show, council really doesn't care about the citizens, nor this city. Could this new vision to fancy up downtown, be due to the fact that the EDC is moving their offices there? You can put lipstick on a pig, and it's still a pig. I would like to see real substance rather than fluff. Fix the infrastructure. Clean up the ROWs and curbs. That will help tremendously. Also, why cant or doesn't the code compliance do something about bandit signs and littering?
Don't get me wrong. I agree the owners should have more pride in the buildings they own and make them more desirable to be rented. Perhaps council needs to pass an ordinance that requires owners to do so. Until this city gets serious about the ordinances already on the books, it will remain a laughing stock of this county.
Oh, another thing. This city needs a serious sign ordinance. I have spent hours on the internet looking at what other cities, large and small, do to make their towns clean and be desirable to the eye. All it takes is a stern council and administration. This city has neither. What a shame.


Gary Scoggin

George, you are correct in that the key to any revitalization of LM lies in getting the schools back into shape.

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