Policy 2.3.3: Improve downtown streets to become more multimodal and appealing to pedestrians, with ample shaded sidewalks and on-street parking: a. Improve safety and encourage pedestrians and transit users by managing vehicular speeds on downtown streets, using measures such as (v.) Timing of traffic signals to reward managed steady vehicular speeds and b. Provide on-street parking on at least 50% of all downtown streets.
It is important to note that Downtown traffic lights have been synchronized and that parking on Downtown streets currently exceeds 50%.
Policy 2.8.3: City policies and programs will encourage the rehabilitation of upper stories of existing downtown buildings as office, retail, entertainment, and residential space. Financial incentive will be considered to encourage investment from the private sector.
Downtown Redevelopment Incentivized through Neighborhood Empowerment Zone (NEZ) Program The Neighborhood Empowerment Zone Program provides that based on qualifying criteria, building permit fee waivers and municipal property tax abatements ranging from 5 to 10 years be granted to homeowners, investor-owners and developers proposing new construction or rehabilitation projects that are located within Council Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 8 inclusive of Downtown.
Chapter 380 Economic Incentive: Chapter 380 of the Texas Local Government Code authorizes Texas Municipalities to provide assistance for economic development in the form of loans, grants, personnel, and services. This has proven to be an excellent tool in attracting development to our area. One prime example is the construction of the Outlet Shoppes which opened its doors in Spring 2017 and represented a private investment of over $100 million.
Policy 2.9.5: Continue to encourage adaptive reuse of historic buildings.
Downtown St. Joseph Food Store & Pantry Opens its Doors: When the Downtown HEB closed its doors, a great void was created in meeting the nutrition and grocery needs of the residents of Downtown and neighboring areas. The City of Laredo entered into partnership with New Vision Church by renovating and making available the space at the former Southern Hotel in which the organization could provide food pantry and market services to the general public. Benefiting from this service are the elderly, many of whom reside in Downtown and have limited transportation. Significantly, more than 50% of the food items that New Vision Church dispenses from this store, is made available free of charge to the elderly population.
Policy 2.14.1 Create a downtown parking strategy plan that continues to utilize and improve upon the provision of on-street, parking, pubic parking lots and garages, and shared private parking spaces with clear signage to inform the public of all transportation and parking options.
Downtown Parking Study Completed: A Comprehensive Downtown Parking Study was completed June 2019. The Study prepared by Walker consultants in partnership with Redline Architecture, highlights the necessary strategies and tools to address and improve the user parking experience downtown as well as ensure that downtown parking assets are managed in a way that reflects the primary goals and needs of the community. Public input was sought through a series of public workshops and an online community survey. The study reported that the City does not need additional parking infrastructure at this time, but rather vigorous parking management through adjustments to the City’s current parking policies. As a result of the study’s findings, parking meter parking meter operations have been extended to 9:00 p.m., and a parking meter increase was implemented within certain streets downtown and at the Iturbide and Farragut parking lots. The purpose of this policy change, which took effect August 16, 2019, is to encourage parking turnover and availability at the curb and the use of off-street parking for longer parking stays.