With more foot traffic in downtown, more money is expended, which in turn is reinvested into the area to create a destination.
After the recession hit hard in 2008, sales tax gradually declined from $366,286.86 to a 15-year low of $230,858.02 in 2013, according to reports obtained from the Texas Comptroller’s Office by the Daily Light.
In 2017, the downtown district and its small business owners brought in $323,423.47 in sales tax revenue.
The state imposes a 6.25 sales tax, which is then divvied up between the state and city.
Economic Development Coordinator Kassandra Carroll explained the City of Waxahachie receives two cents, and of that, 1.5 cents is contributed to the general fund for the city and the remaining .5 cents is given to 4B, which focuses on Community Development Corporation that comprises the Waxahachie Civic Center, the Sports Complex and beautification projects.
“No area of town has more value per acre, more jobs per acre, or more beauty per acre than our compacted downtown,” expressed Downtown development director Anita Brown. “That’s why anything reinvested into downtown is worth it.”
Several beautification projects were completed in 2018 to enhance the downtown area for locals and be pleasant for when visitors traveled.
From 2002 through 2012, Brown reported $106,708,802 was invested in downtown. In 2014, downtown development reinvested — in both public and private sectors — $3,457,490, while $3,278,602 was spent in 2015 and included the Ellis County Elections Office. In 2016, $3,669,466 was reinvested in downtown developments.
“The public sector is supposed to kick start the revitalization, and the private sector takes over, so that’s what we’ve found down here,” Brown explained.
In 2017, the private sector reinvested, $2,654,326, while the public sector put in $1,160,764. The trend continued in 2018 with the private sector investing over $3 million and the public sector reinvesting $412,561.
Brown provided a list of completed projects that enriched downtown that showed the splash pad in George Brown Plaza, Hachie Hearts, the Love Lock Wall, and the rehabilitation of South Rogers Street improved the downtown experience. The new construction of Franklin Townhomes and Two Amigos Taqueria were also mentioned.
The Wayfinder Program was also implemented to help drivers find historic downtown and other popular attractions. Nearly 60 signs were installed and strategically placed along Interstate-35, U.S. Highway 287 and throughout the city of Waxahachie.
Downtown business owners expressed the construction, beautification projects and art projects have brought a new ambiance to central Waxahachie.
Fresh Market owner Shane Henry was directly impacted by the South Rogers Street revitalization project that cost $1.26 million.
Through the 100 and 500 blocks of South Rogers Street, the existing street was removed, water and sewer drainage was upgraded along with curbs and some sidewalks.
“The construction on South Rogers was something that we needed to get done, but it was obviously painful for a long time because it was torn up so bad,” Henry said.
Henry went on to explain the project made that area of downtown just as desirable as other areas, which was vital since it impacted the entrance of the Farmer’s Market that generated $155,709.96 in total revenue in 2018, according to a previous Daily Light article.
By the end of spring, Fresh Market will relocate across the street to operate in the MKT Depot that was built in 1908. Passenger services discontinued in 1964 and freight services stopped in 1988. The City of Waxahachie purchased the building in 2008 and construction to restore the landmark began in 2009. The entire $3.1 million-restoration was complete in 2010.
“It is nice to be able to stay downtown, and with the city’s efforts to renovate the depot it’s a great space,” Henry elaborated.
In 2019, the owner of The Dove’s Nest, Cindy Burch, will celebrate 25 years of business. Burch has been an active member of the Waxahachie Downtown Merchants Association since it was founded and relayed the efforts by the City of Waxahachie has revived it.
Through the recession, Burch said The Dove’s Nest stayed prominent due to “The grace of God. During that time people were closing, and there wasn’t much down here.”
Burch acknowledged the combination restaurant, gift-store gave a unique model to the business, which helped it succeed.
“I think if we didn’t serve food we would have never made it,” Burch noted.
As more money is generated, more advancements have come. Burch explained back in the day, the WDMA took it upon itself to purchase and install park benches, wastebaskets and potted flowers.
“Literally, we bought all of that to keep downtown beautified and made it a place where people wanted to come,” Burch elaborated. “It’s made a big difference to hire a horticulturist.”
Burch is also one of the few merchants to own its own parking lot. When the Love Lock Wall was installed across the street on her property, Burch granted permission for the city to construct the tourist attraction and rejuvenate the lot itself.
“It helped beautify our parking lot, and in turn, it brings even more people to town and brings them right to our parking lot, and they will hopefully walk over to our business,” Burch explained.
As Burch reflected on her silver anniversary, she noted some things have not changed such as the chicken apricot salad, almond bacon cheddar spread, chocolate bourbon pecan pie and buttermilk pie as they’ve been listed on the menu since day one.
She did note, the Ellis County Courthouse is no longer the only attraction in downtown, but as well as the variety of retail and restaurants.
“They say that we are a destination, but it took years to become that destination,” Burch emphasized.
Brown said the number of restaurants and residential living has doubled since 2015, currently with 24 restaurants and 45 residential units.
“We do have a very good downtown mix of business. But what we are missing are stores for men,” Brown explained.
Figures provided by Brown showed since 2015, 57 businesses have opened, 15 have closed and 14 have relocated.
17 new businesses opened, one closed, two relocated
16 new businesses opened, seven closed, six relocated
Seven new businesses opened, five closed and four relocated
11 new businesses, two closed, two relocated and two closed
So far in 2019, six businesses have opened, two have relocated and two have closed. New businesses include Copper Rose, Meat Church, Vaqueras, LTC of Texas, The Crafty Mom and Dazzling Divas. Those that closed included Britches and Blouses and Texas Pearls.
Brown elaborated on several downtown businesses that have been in business for over 50 years. Happy Home Furnishings, Maxwell’s Jewelry, Citizens National Bank of Texas, Eubank Florist, and College Street Printing have all earned the Texas Treasures Business Award.
Other businesses that have been around for 13 years included Mosaic Madness, Grands Antiques, The Dove’s Nest, All Sports Trophies, Courthouse Café, College Street Pub, Jim Jenkins, Gingerbread Antiques, Old Town Village and Common Threads Quilting, My Father’s House and Justice Financial.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450