WF hoping new apartments will help with diversity downtown

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Over the last year and a half, Wichita Falls city leaders have agreed to spend $1.75 million on fire suppression systems downtown on ten different projects.

The latest was on Tuesday for upscale housing at the Brown building at 901 9th Street.

Attracting people to downtown continues to be a priority for many. That's part of the reason why the ten upscale apartments are being built.

"There will be nine units upstairs," Owner of the Brown Building, Anthony Patterson said. "There will be one downstairs in the lobby."

The city is hoping the project helps diversity the area.

"I see momentum happening downtown," Patterson said. "And in order to get that momentum going and to get larger, there need to be residents downtown. I feel like this is a good way to do that."

Affordable senior living is being built at the old Maskat Shrine Temple, student housing inside the old Crescent Hotel, and apartments above 8th Street Coffee at the Center City building.

C.E.O. of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce Henry Florsheim said there are tons of demographics interested in downtown, not just young professionals, and they want to live there.

"People want to live in situations like this," Florsheim said. "Whether it's a building that's specifically for apartments or something like the Brown building where you've got some retail and restaurants underneath. As a community, if we want to be as good as we possibly can, we've got to do more to provide more of those situations."

Patterson said when he purchased the building in October, he had a vision of just that.

"I think it brings a different clientele to the downtown area and I think it's a niche that we haven't seen here downtown," Patterson said. "When you go to Dallas uptown or when you go to Oklahoma City you see that. But you don't have that here in Wichita Falls."

"A good downtown is a gathering place for the entire community," Florsheim said. "Not just anyone specific demographic. It should be for all ages, genders, and income levels."

Patterson is hoping the project is complete by September at the latest.

Florsheim said if Wichita Falls wants to be a world-class city it's got to have a great downtown, adding projects like this make it easier for businesses to recruit employees to the Falls.

Some of the projects that Wichita Falls has agreed to help with fire suppression systems include Half Pint, Karat Bistro, and Wichita Falls Brewing.

It's something the city has been doing to help attract businesses downtown. City Manager Darron Leiker said so far they have not been overwhelmed by the requests and they look very diligently at each one.

Deputy City Manager Jim Dockery said the city might have to be more cautious on how they spend 4B money depending on how well business is at the new hotel. That's because the city will pay for the entire conference center.

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