Members of the Downtown Retail Task Force released their months-long study last week. The task force decided to focus on Dallas Street, between Milam and LaBranch, as the new downtown shopping corridor.
The idea is to focus retail shopping along the street that is already near several hotels, the GRB Convention Center, GreenStreet entertainment complex, and several high rise residential buildings in the south part of downtown. They're hoping to attract three main types of shoppers.
"The first is the downtown worker, the second is really an expanding group of residents both in and around downtown, and the third is our visitors," said Bob Eury with the Downtown District.
For years, city leaders have tried to jump start downtown retail in hopes of attracting better stores and more foot traffic. The effort has not had major success. However, with several new residential projects going up in the downtown area and a hot economy, downtown boosters believe now is the right time.
The full report calls for an incentive package for developers and an aggressive timeline to open stores in time for the 2016 NCAA Final Four and 2017 Super Bowl. However, not everyone is convinced it will work.
I spoke with Lasker Meyer, the former CEO of Foley's, who says subsidizing downtown developers with tax dollars would be a bad idea.
"Until they get enough people near the core of downtown, retailing will never be a success there," he said.
Downtown worker Brittany Johnson said, "You don't have time to really do that much shopping. It's during lunch and then at five, everyone's out of here.
But downtown boosters will not be deterred, hoping to start building new stores and signing up tenants soon.
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