With growing interest in the Downtown revitalization plans in Marble Falls, I thought it would be a good time to share some information, address some concerns, and clear up some misconceptions.
First and foremost, I would like to invite anyone who has an interest in Downtown Marble Falls to contact me anytime to discuss your thoughts, ideas, questions, and concerns about the EDC’s role in this very large project. So far, the response from stakeholders has been very positive, but I understand that not everyone wants to engage in a dialogue in a public forum.
To begin, I would like to share the presentation that I have given to Downtown business owners, Chamber members, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Noon Rotary Club and others regarding what we are calling the Downtown Project. These slides provide a timeline of work completed, results of visioning sessions, conceptual plans, projected impacts, and more. Below are some additional images of conceptual public realm improvements.
AS YOU SHOULD SEE, THE EDC BOARD HAS BEEN ABSOLUTELY ADAMANT THAT THE PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS ARE ACCESSIBLE TO LOCAL RESIDENTS AS WELL AS TOURISTS.
In fact, the trigger point in the EDC’s acquisition of property in the Downtown area was a desire to maintain and enhance the public’s access to Lake Marble Falls, not to support the creation of amenities reserved only for hotel guests. Moreover, any discussion about potential relocation of park amenities provides for the improvement and enhancement of those amenities—such as the swimming pool and skate park—in other, more appropriate locations. The EDC absolutely would not support a plan that called for the elimination of those things altogether.
A second primary tenet in the EDC’s plan is to help establish a financial infrastructure—including the Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone—and engage in public/private partnerships so that locals and visitors alike can enjoy improvements without raising property tax rates for the citizens of Marble Falls. We are blessed to have a regional economy supported primarily by people who don’t live in town, so why not use those sales tax dollars to leverage improvements that would not be possible if funding could come only from local residents?
The project identified as the most likely catalyst for Downtown redevelopment is a hotel and conference center located on a portion of the property acquired by the EDC last year. Discussions on a Downtown conference center have been taking place for more than a decade. Early talks explored the possibility of expanding Lakeside Pavilion and/or constructing a new event center adjacent to the Pavilion. Without an attached hotel, however, concerns mounted; no one thought that a public entity should be in the business of owning and operating a standalone conference center. A joint hotel/conference center resurfaced as one of the high-priority projects in the Downtown Master Plan adopted in 2012. Since that time, we’ve had numerous discussions with private developers, and a feasibility study done by PKF in 2014-2015 showed that the market would support a 150-room hotel with 12,000 square feet of meeting space. Other feasibility studies have been done over the last several months on Downtown residential, retail, office, and parking needs.
Currently, the EDC is reviewing and discussing proposals from firms who would like to partner with us on a hotel/conference center in Downtown Marble Falls. The hotel itself won’t create a huge benefit for local residents, other than those employed in housekeeping, reception, sales, or management. The revenue generated by the entire project, however, will provide enormous dividends for the community through public realm improvements, connections to the lake, and other desired benefits highlighted in the Comprehensive Plan survey results.
In sum, there is no question that we have a lot of needs in our community. There is also no question that our community has a lot of potential. Our organization strives to address both ends of the spectrum by thoughtfully engaging in projects that can help Marble Falls become a better version of itself.
Again, please feel free to contact me if I can be of service.