STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
If it’s been more than a week since your last visit to downtown Marble Falls, chances are it looks completely different to you.
Two new businesses opened this week on Main Street, and another will be leaving soon. In the greater downtown area of Marble Falls, buildings are under contract to be sold, have sold, or are being renovated.
All the activity in recent weeks points to a changing landscape in downtown for locals and tourists alike.
“We are excited to see growth throughout the district,” said Marble Falls Downtown coordinator Erin Burks. “Downtown is the heart of Marble Falls. Adding new additions alongside the existing businesses creates a place for both locals and tourists to shop, dine, and live life together.”
New businesses that opened this week are Jardin Corona Mexican Restaurant, 301 Main St., and Fiesta Winery tasting room, 309 Main St., No. 9.
La-Ti-Da at 202 Main St. is moving out of its location by the end of the year because the building is under contract to be sold. Owner Michele Hart said she’s seen many changes to Main Street during the 12 years she’s been in business at that location — 15 years total on Main Street.
“I watch what’s happening, and I’m encouraged because of growth,” Hart said.
La-Ti-Da plans to move with Rudy Moreno Jewelry, which is inside the same building, to Johnson City by Labor Day.
“Mostly, it’s good,” Hart said. “My only real concern, if I get my selfish part out of the way, is big out-of-town money coming in and going to gentrify a space and make little shops like mine (not be able) to maintain.”
Tenants and business owners downtown all are anticipating even more growth in the area as the proposed Lofts at 99 Main and hotel/conference center are expected to be built in the coming years.
When updating City Council on the status of the hotel and conference center, Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Christian Fletcher said he hopes to “be able to make announcements on that in the very near future.”
The city’s downtown district, taken as a whole, is the fourth-largest sales-tax generator and employer in Marble Falls, according to Fletcher.
“When downtown is thriving, it is a good indicator for the whole community,” he said
For the entire city, economic indicators have been setting records.
Fletcher recently reported to City Council that the city’s gross sales are up more than 13.5 percent in 2018 over 2017. From July 2018 to June 2019, taxable sales are up 8 percent over the previous year.
From those sales-tax dollars, the city has funneled money to downtown improvements in the past year, including Harmony Park, the downtown restroom, and sidewalk improvements near the library and on Third Street.
“With new businesses and amenities coming in, I think we’re going to see downtown become more of a destination throughout the year and not just on weekends,” Fletcher said. “It’s an exciting time for our community.”
New business activity is noticeable. Just in 2019, new businesses such as Bear King Brewing Company, Daniel Adams Art Gallery, and Indigo Cellars have opened downtown.
Beside large projects like the lofts and the hotel/conference center, more new business activity is still to come. Renovations are being made to the old city police building, 209 Main St., to transform it into a retail building with space for multiple tenants and a covered outdoor market area. A shoe store, Blue Suede Shoes, is expected to open in the Market on H in July.
Although moving most of her business to Johnson City, Hart said she’s looking to maintain a presence in Marble Falls. At the moment, she’s just not sure where.
“I love this town and inspiring people to shop and eat at the restaurants,” she said. “I try to be positive. I figure I’m just going to continue to be the Marble Falls spokesmodel, but I’ll just continue doing it from Johnson City.”