AUSTIN EDITION - EDITORIAL COL Austin on the program
'Take Part' exercise seeks to revitalize downtown
Personal makeover programs are popular these days and Austin is following the trend by doing the same for the downtown area.
A downtown is the heart of a city -- literally and figuratively.
A downtown littered with empty storefronts is a sign a city needs to hit the gym to work on an unhealthy heart.
Austin is starting its "exercise" program. If it sticks with it, the city might end up with a downtown heart that matches the strength of the community's spirit.
On a rainy Tuesday evening this week, more than 80 people showed how interested Austin residents are in revitalizing the downtown and other business areas.
If the turnout is an indication, the first "Take Part" workshop can be counted as a success.
After carefully inspecting specific sites or areas, the volunteer groups recorded their impressions and offered ideas for improvements.
Some of those ideas included:
Keep the courthouse or government offices downtown.
Develop an historic district.
Renovate the former Silver Bullet Building.
Offer sleigh rides and horse-drawn carriages to bring people from the Spam Museum to downtown.
Build an "old fashioned hotel" in the USEM's Building.
Create a music and cultural area around the Paramount using the Silver Bullet Building.
Experts are studying those ideas to see what could work. There is still a lot of work to be done, but Austin's citizens have taken the first steps toward turning downtown from a "before" into an "after."