Editorial: Kudos to Main Street Project

Published 5:46 pm Saturday, August 2, 2014

With last week’s announcement that the Austin Main Street Project will end its development work after renovations are complete on several downtown buildings later this summer, it’s time to thank project leaders for their work in improving Austin.

The future is bright for downtown Austin. The Austin ArtWorks Center officially opens later this month, the Spam Museum is set to move downtown, and Vision 2020 is helping further downtown’s notoriety.

But the Austin Main Street Project is one of the groups that got the ball rolling on downtown renovation.

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Drive down Main Street and you can see the project’s effects. But the numbers are also impressive: The project has helped renovate 42 storefronts and created eight apartments since its inception in 2005; and, during that time, project organizers spent about $6.2 million to improve downtown Austin’s look.

Such changes downtown attract business. Willow Cove, which sells furniture, gifts and “up-cycled,” gift items, is moving downtown soon, as owner Jill Jones described it as a budding tourist destination.

“I feel like the best place for me is downtown because of the vision downtown has,” she told the Herald. “I feel like the downtown is going with that small town, local business-type shopping.”

Downtown improvement is far from over. City officials and organizers believe Vision 2020 and other organizations will likely do more to improve the downtown area. Main Street Project Executive Director Sarah Douty also serves as a co-chair for Vision 2020’s Destination Downtown committee and expects more downtown improvements in the future.

While we are sad the project is coming to a close, the timing makes sense. The torch is being passed to the next phase of boosting downtown.