Quick FAQ’s about the Chamber’s Downtown Initiative

August 10, 2018

Still curious about the Chamber’s Downtown Initiative? Here are answers to a lot of commonly asked questions.

Q:  What is the Downtown Abilene Initiative?

A:  The primary goal of the Downtown Abilene Initiative is to build confidence in downtown Abilene as a destination to live, work, play and, most importantly, invest. Implementation includes promotions, economic/community development and instilling a design sensitivity that is only satisfied when the physical appearance of downtown matches the vision of downtown developed by the community.

Q:  What are the geographic boundaries of downtown?

A:  The Initiative’s area of focus includes the SoDA, Warehouse and National Register Historic districts and has the generally defined boundaries of Grape St. (west), N. 6th Street (north), Treadaway St. (east) and S. 6th Street (south).

Q.  What is meant by the term SoDA?

A:  SoDA is an acronym for South of Downtown Abilene, and generally refers to a district between South 1st and South 6th Streets. The district includes the Taylor County Courthouse, numerous other County properties, the Enterprise Building (Abilene’s tallest at 300’), CityLink, a small pocket of loft-style private residences and a growing number of after five opportunities and entertainment venues.

Q:  How is the Downtown Iniative funded?

A:  The Downtown Abilene Initiative was established in January 2018 as an affiliate of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. Separate funding for two years of operations was secured from private stakeholders. No public funds are utilized.

Q:  How, specifically, does the Downtown Abilene Initiative serve downtown?

A:  We are a full-time advocate for downtown, supporting initiatives that increase the value and vitality of the area including mobility, streetscapes, economic development, arts and culture, housing, parks, public order, and quality of life issues.

Q:  Is the Downtown Abilene Initiative a part of the City of Abilene?

A:  No, we are a privately funded affiliate of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. We are a committed member of a continually evolving public/private partnership. A close working relationship with city staff enables us to advocate on behalf of our constituent property and business owners to help resolve questions and issues that arise periodically, just as the Chamber does for all its constituent businesses across our community.

Q:  Can the Downtown Abilene Initiative help advocate for my property or development with the City of Abilene?

A:  We are an enthusiastic advocate for downtown property and business owners, with a close working relationship with city administration and various departments. We work cooperatively with the City to help educate developers and property owners on development requirements within the downtown area. We also work with you and the City to explore alternative solutions to development related challenges within the downtown area.

Q:  Can the Downtown Abilene Initiative make rules for downtown?

A:  No. Only the City of Abilene can set development standards, guidelines and rules for use in the downtown area. The Initiative has facilitated considerable public engagement that continues to shape Council members’ vision for downtown policy-making.

Q:  How does the Downtown Abilene Initiative help to promote business downtown?

A:  Through its website (launch coming soon!) and social media channels, the Initiative serves a destination marketing function for the downtown district, promoting it as an ideal place for families and young professionals to visit. We also serve a business development role, to attract new, complementary businesses that will enhance the current retail and dining/entertainment mix. All of these activities are undertaken in close coordination with allied organizations, such as the Abilene Downtown Association and the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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