The city of Killeen invested more than $10 million in downtown revitalization in the past five years, and Thursday, city staff gathered downtown stakeholders to explain where all the money is going.
Although most of the four city blocks that comprise the $5.8 million downtown streetscaping project are still lined with orange barricades, new sidewalks and streets are beginning to take shape.
George Lueck, the city’s transportation director, said that in three weeks the sidewalks, lighting and decorative brick crosswalks along Avenue D will be completed.
The entire project, which includes a paved connector to a trail from downtown to the Andy K. Wells Hike and Bike Trail, is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
The meeting, which drew about 20 people to the newly renovated $5.7 million Arts and Activities Center, also served as an opportunity for residents to voice their concerns.
“To be perfectly honest, I think this is a great project, but if we don’t address the parking issue, it’s not going to work,” said Carol Settles, who has owned property in downtown since 1991.
“If we are going to go big, let’s go big.”
City Manager Glenn Morrison said the new streetscaping project would reshape downtown parking along Avenue D and the city would work with private lot owners to find more parking.
Many residents were optimistic that the revitalization would be successful at attracting more visitors in downtown.
“The occupants of this city are really transient, but a lot more of them are staying to retire,” downtown resident David Ignacio said. “I think projects like this help.”
Downtown banker Pat Kaufman, who served on the downtown planning board, said the revitalization got personal after three major downtown buildings were condemned in 2007.
Since then, streets have become safer and downtown property owners have begun to invest in their properties, he said.
“The city has got to put in some money initially, but in the end it is the private investment that will make this work,” Kaufman said.
Several privately owned downtown buildings were renovated in the past year, including Solution One, Christell’s Flowers, the Killeen Eye Center and Tanks Pub, whose owner plans to open an entertainment and wine bar this spring.