Center City of Amarillo extended an invitation for the Imagine the Possibilities Tour Sunday, where people could look at spaces to live and work in downtown Amarillo.
“This is so exciting,” said Beth Duke, Center City executive director. “This is a tour of our downtown properties that are available for sale or lease and it’s everything from residential, like here at the beautiful Firestone Apartments, to retail space at Buchanan, to a live/work space on Pierce.”
Duke said four of the 13 units at the Firestone Building, a historical structure that was renovated using state and federal historical tax credits, Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone incentives and a Center City facade grant, have been leased so far.
“Tours like this are great, otherwise I don’t think people would realize what has been done to these old buildings,” said Laura Lane, who took part in the tour. “I am so glad to see historical buildings in downtown Amarillo get refurbished and reused and reinvented. To be able to walk to work, with restaurants everywhere now, this just enlivens the downtown area.”
Lane said she liked the rafters in the second floor apartments, modern kitchens, washers and dryers in each apartment and en suite living spaces at the Firestone Apartments, which she said would be a perfect living area for young professionals.
“I love it! Keep it up, downtown Amarillo,” she said.
“This is critically important because we need to expand the use of downtown instead of spreading all of our resources to the southwest,” said Brian Jones. “Downtown is where Amarillo started and I’d like to us return to it and provide a real downtown environment and experience for young professionals to invest in Amarillo.
“We need to not do things the way we’ve always done it. It’s time to change.”
Jones said as much as he likes what is happening in downtown Amarillo, there is one thing he’d still like to see.
“I like to see more residential properties. So far they’re mostly built out for retail space or office space, which is what we’ve had downtown for the past 45 years,” he said. “And I think we probably need to talk about the rent costs, they seem to be a little elevated.”
Sunnye Jones said she is excited for the growth and expansion in downtown Amarillo and can’t wait for the ballpark.
“We have the stereotype of having nothing to do in Amarillo,” she said. “I think downtowns need to be built up because when they die, the towns die. When you build up the downtown area people come, businesses come … you get the tourist attraction and then it becomes a really livable city.”
Other buildings on the tour were the Historic Levine’s Building, the historic retail corner at 801 S. Polk St., the retail space around the new parking garage on Buchanan St. and Sixth Ave, Bernard’s warehouse across from where the Multi Purpose Event Venue will sit and 219 S. Pierce St., which could function as a joint retail and living space.
“We have beautiful new retail spaces underneath the parking garage on Buchanan,” Duke said. “Once the (MPEV) opens, the traffic count on Buchanan is going to be exponential!You’re going to want to have your business right there where you get all of the traffic coming and going to those baseball games.”
The tour was planned in conjunction with Historic Preservation Month. To commemorate the occasion, the city joined the Texas Historical Commission’s website downtowntx.org which shows all downtown properties for lease or for sale state-wide.
“To have a healthy neighborhood it has to be place to live, work, play, learn and worship,” Duke said. “If you have people living there, then you have a 24/7 neighborhood. People don’t just leave at 5 o’clock or when the restaurants close. It makes a neighborhood healthier when you have a residential community.”