Downtown Revitalization Leaps Forward

Several new projects are soon going to change the face of downtown Amarillo.

Partnerships between the city, non-profit development corporations, private enterprise, and now West Texas A&M University have produced several new revitalization projects that will bring people and jobs to Amarilloâ??s city center.

Downtown is becoming more of an academic hub, with the purchase of the commerce building by the Amarillo Economic Development Corp for West Texas A&M University. The university had outgrown the space in the Chase building that it is currently using. Wade Shaffer, the Provost of West Texas A&M University said the university had been looking for a while for a new building in the downtown area, and that â??this is a great opportunity for us to expand our footprint, our presence in downtown Amarillo.â??

The Amarillo Economic Development Corp bought the building with the vision of being a large city anchored by a four year university. Richard â??Buzzâ?? David, the CEO of the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation believes that the universityâ??s presence in Amarillo is key part of downtownâ??s future. He said that â??the idea is looking towards the future so that Amarillo is not one those communities that is not of this size and does not have a 4 year university in its presence.â??

A multiple use stadium is also in the works for downtown, and will provide a venue not just for baseball, but for a variety of special events. The stadium will also be flanked by a large luxury hotel.

Mayor Harpole said that the new stadium is much more than a baseball stadium, and that â??the plan is that we would be able to have multiple events there. â??

And in order to accommodate the new stadium, the city has obtained a permit to build a new facility for Coca-Cola, because the site they currently occupy is slated for the new stadium.

Richard â??Buzzâ?? David said that â??we have been working with Coca-Cola for many, many months and the idea is that they will relocate from their three and half or so city blocks downtown to that park in a state of the art building that has been designed to their specifications. â??

And the city is facilitating all of these ambitious projects in a fiscally responsible fashion. In fact, the city has a coveted AAA bond rating from the ratings agency Standard and Poorâ??s. The ratings agencies look very carefully at a cityâ??s finances before giving out the AAA bond rating.

Mayor Harpole said that the ratings agencies â?? looked at what our city is progressing towards, what our growth rate is, what our plans are, and we were able to gain a triple-A bond rating which puts us in the upper atmosphere of cities across the country. â??

The AAA bond rating means that the city can obtain financing for long term projects at a very low interest rate and that saves tax payers here in Amarillo millions of dollars. Additionally, according to the mayor, many of these new downtown projects will not add any debt to the city of Amarillo, which remains very low compared when compared to most cities nationwide