Downtown WF business owners work together to reach a common goal

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - About two dozen Downtown Wichita Falls business owners are working to grow the place they often call their second home.

At a meeting Tuesday night at the Wichita Falls Library they worked together to put words into action.

With downtown booming it is the first time many of them have all got together, and a lot of the downtown key players were there. Like the owners of the Highlander Public House, the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, 9th street studios and Iron Horse Pub.

Although their businesses are different they share one common goal, growing Downtown Wichita Falls.

"So it's just about us all getting along downtown and making this thing happen, that's really what it's all about," said Cowboy Johnny Mantell, the President of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Wichita Falls Downtown Development is giving them the chance to do just that.

"We really as an organization want to hear what the merchants downtown think, just so we can serve them better," said Dusty Potter, President of the Downtown Wichita Falls Development Inc.

A big concern many of these business owners share is the sidewalks.

"The thing we hear the most, the issue people want to improve the quickest, are the sidewalks," said Potter.

Kim Galan, the owner of Connect Packing and Shipping located on Ohio Avenue, said although the sidewalks around her store are pretty good, she knows that is not the case for others.

"A lot of the areas of downtown the trees have grown and pushed the sidewalks up, and it's very difficult to push your strollers down there and just to walk without being afraid you'll fall," said Galan.

Many said they feel the city should have to cover the cost, but Galan feels a 50/50 split will do.

"I think we need to share the responsibility at the very least," said Galan. "If we really want to revitalize downtown the sidewalks are a huge factor in that."

Talking about things like this is why Potter said they are having these discussions in the first place.

"We were happy to hear that as Downtown Development, and also there were a few members of the city's Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee that will take that information back and hopefully we can get some motion there," said Potter.

The meeting also gave the opportunity to share insight about city support, like a $5,000 grant offered by the 4B Sales Tax Corporation.

Potter said it is for facade and safety improvements to buildings downtown.

"It's a matching grant, so if someone spends $10,000 or more on improvement of the building there is a $5,000  match from the city," said Potter.

Those who came out like Chef Erik Scott, the owner of the Highlander Public House, said they are glad to see the progress downtown has already made. They add making this development happen is a team effort.

"We're all in this together downtown, we're all business owners and we need to grow downtown the best we can and get more people down," said Chef Scott.

He said they can achieve this by working together and feels meetings like these are helpful.

"I think it was great getting to communicate with everybody, and hopefully we can get in here with the city and get some stuff done," said Chef Scott.

Other topics that were discussed are the possibility of relaxing some building codes and the need to make downtown more family friendly.

They even talked about festivals and how events like the After Hours Artwalk benefits all of the businesses downtown.

The next meeting will be in three months. Those with the Wichita Falls Downtown Development are expecting twice as many business owners to come out.

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