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Transformative projects outlined to improve San Jacinto neighborhood

Proposed changes in the works aimed at improving San Jacinto Neighborhood along Route 66 in Amarillo. (Drew Powell ABC 7 News){br}
Proposed changes in the works aimed at improving San Jacinto Neighborhood along Route 66 in Amarillo. (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)
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A number of proposed improvements to the San Jacinto neighborhood along Route 66 are heading to the Amarillo City Council for approval. A redevelopment plan drafted by local stakeholders aims to enhance a section of 6th Street for visitors, business owners and those who live in the area.

“They (tourists) don’t want to stop and shop, they don’t want to leave their cars,” said Chip Hunt, 6th Street Antique Mall business owner on Route 66. “They don’t want to leave their belongings or anything in the cars and whether that fear is founded or not it’s still there.”

Hunt has been a business owner for 16 years along Route 66 in the San Jacinto neighborhood of Amarillo. She tells ABC 7 News something needs to be done to improve the visitor experience to a stretch of the road that attracts locals, visitors from the state and tourists from all over the world.

“We do need a lot of help keeping up the streets,” said Hunt. “Keeping up the front of the buildings and keeping things that keep tourists out of the area away from here.”

The redevelopment plan calls for a safety task force to be formed aiming at reducing crime and improving safety. The Amarillo Police Department has two officers assigned to the neighborhood who work out of Heal the City. Crime and theft are still problems in the San Jacinto Neighborhood.

“Unfortunately, they just have some bad eggs in that community and that’s part of what having our NPO’s and Project Safe Neighborhood program working in that neighborhood,” said Carla Burr, Sgt. Amarillo Police Department. "The only thing we can add is starting smaller neighborhood watches in smaller sections of the community.”

The final draft that will go before the city council outlines the need to further unify 6th Street businesses and fixing a housing crisis. The hope is, if the council approves the plan, it will elevate the experience on 6th Street for everyone.

"There are no quick fixes," said Emily Koller, Planning & Development Services Director for the city of Amarillo. "Some of the things proposed are parking management, wayfinding with signage, gateways that make you feel like your entering or leaving something. Co-operative and branding efforts are also included."

"If we can follow through and get everything done that they're planning on doing, it will be fantastic," said Hunt.

Another idea discussed and submitted as part of the plan is to bring new events to the district.

Amarillo city leaders will meet the first week of February in a work session and are expected to take a vote on the plan on Feb 11.

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A number of meetings were held seeking community input on how to agree to a plan that would help Route 66 in San Jacinto.

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