Downtown Wichita Falls has changed over the last five decades. Warehouse shopping, strip malls, shopper mobility, and the internet have all contributed to downtown’s decline as a traditional retail center. Still, citizens long for a vibrant downtown and a lively community featuring social activities and a sense of place.
Downtown Wichita Falls Development, (DWFD), is engaged in revitalization efforts to renew the downtown area and restore it to its former prominence as a center of community activity.
“We know it’s not going to be like it was in the 50’s and the 60’s and the early 70’s. It’s not going to do that. But, if we can keep our historical buildings, if we can do preservation, and then have all of our little niche markets downtown that make people want to come down here, make it a destination for shopping, that’s the direction we’re going.” Said Cynthia Laney, Executive Director, Downtown Wichita Falls Development.
Because Wichita Falls exercises caution when investing public dollars in development projects, partnerships among diverse private interests have become increasingly important for the financing of the infrastructure improvements needed to support local development.
DWFD have great partnerships in place with city officials, Chamber of Commerce, property owners, and DWFD works closely with all of them to make sure that revitalization is going in the right direction.
The DWFD Board of Directors are very invested in downtown. Most of them have downtown businesses, but some of them are also from other areas of town, but they all want to see downtown Wichita Falls revitalized.
Different groups have different interests in downtown Wichita Falls. While each may have a particular focus, all groups ultimately share the common goal of revitalization. By involving a broad range of constituents in the process, downtown revitalization has a greater chance for success. DWFD helps each group realize that a common goal exists and that cooperation is essential for successful revitalization.
DWFD’s philosophy is – Downtown is our focus, but our goal is economic development for the whole city of Wichita Falls.
The City of Wichita Falls has invested, over the last several years, at 8th and Lamar, Scott and Indiana, where the stars are. Some of the citizens didn’t realize exactly what was going on. They thought that the stars where just for aesthetic purposes. But, the City went in and completely re-did the infrastructure. The infrastructure was the biggest expense for those three intersections and was needed so that downtown redevelopment could move forward.
Then, last year, the city invested in a new transportation center. This is expected to spur more investment and development into the downtown area. Wichita Falls has a lot of people that are very passionate about downtown. They are involved because they want to be, and Downtown Wichita Falls Development is doing everything they can to help.
For more information about Downtown Wichita Falls Development, contact them at (940) 322-4525, or visit their website at www.downtownproud.com
William S. Wells is an entrepreneurial freelance writer who writes about small businesses.