As downtowns in many small communities slowly dry up, we want to encourage people to look at our downtown area and recognize how fortunate Houston is.
The Courthouse Square was designed and built before all of us were born. The idea was to put a grand structure in the center of town that would be a magnet for commerce, county government and local justice. That building has and is still serving that purpose well.
The additional goal was to have four rows of buildings facing the courthouse and filled with merchants, institutions and professional services. A quick look around the square shows that is still the case with dress shops, lawyers, banks and business services anchoring each street. We’ve also got a couple of restaurants and convenience stores, too.
Our Post Office stands on the northwest corner and City Hall holds down the southern side, putting most of our major government offices in one location.
To say Houston’s downtown is quaint is a little bit of an understatement. There are hundreds if not thousand of towns across this nation that would love to have it so good.
Yes, there are too many vacant buildings. Yes, some of those buildings are desperately in need of repair and renovation. And yes, some of that may not change very soon.
But take a look at what has happened with the Colbert Building renovation. Historic Hometown Houston has worked to bring planter boxes and decorative crosswalks to town. They repaved downtown just two short years ago.
Downtown do change.
Hardware stores, grocery stores and a movie theater all had a presence downtown in a bygone age. As shopping habits have changed, so have downtowns.
The question Houston must answer is how do we want our downtown to change?
Professional services and technology-related businesses are obvious factors in the mix. Bringing in doctors, dentists and optometrists are a good choice, too, with drug stores and medical equipment vendors already in place and ready to serve. More state and federal government offices are another idea. A couple of restaurants would also be a nice addition and draw people to Houston and The Square after the sun goes down.
Yes, Houston is fortunate.
As people come downtown for Homecoming this weekend we hope an entrepreneur or businessman with deep pockets will consider us for their next venture.
Our downtown has potential. Our downtown has options. All our downtown needs are businesses and individuals to help make good things happen.