As San Marcos continues to thrive, downtown properties have reached a new level of worth.
According to a Jan. 20 Community Impact article, downtown property value has increased by 38 percent, going from $104 million in 2011 to $144 million in 2015.
“As building values spiral upwards, property owners can expect an increase return on their investment,” said Councilman Scott Gregson, Place 5.
According to a 2015 Forbes article, five of the top 10 fastest-growing cities were in the Lone Star State. Samantha Armbruster, Main Street program manager, said she expects this trend to continue for San Marcos.
“There’s a lot of trends happening on a national level that I think we are starting to realize on a local level,”Armbruster said. “To say that we’re in a hub and slated for growth is kind of an understatement.”
Armbruster said there has been a new appreciation for town centers, historic buildings and walkable environments. The influx in downtown property value can attribute to Texas State’s growth.
“We’re so lucky to be so centrally located in not only our city, but our state, and have a large population of people in their 20s,” Armbruster said. “That’s exactly the population that is gravitating towards urban centers.”
Armbruster said there has been a sizable, publicly funded improvement project in the downtown area within the last two years. Because of this, there has been a huge interest in private investment.
“When you see a city come and say, ‘We believe in our downtown. We want it to thrive,’ it sends a message to the private investors that this is the place that will continue to grow and flourish,” Armbruster said.
She said a strong Main Street program supports downtown businesses. Unique projects help attract revenue to businesses in the downtown area. For example, Leap For Local is a program where residents are able to pick up a bingo card at select shops downtown to receive prizes.
Armbruster said any city growth spurs some sort of struggle. Rapid growth can create difficulty when it comes to the parking availability. Main Street worked with the city to renew additional parking spaces for downtown employees, but there is more to accomplish.
“There are definitely some plans that are being worked on to resolve the issue of parking,” Armbruster said. “There is a lot of conversation about it, and I am confident that we will see those come to fruition within the next year.”
Gregson said the city’s Master Plan calls for a significant increase in density and pushes towards a walkable and bike-able habitat.
“You don’t have to own a vehicle to survive downtown,” Gregson said. “It’s an important initiative of the council to not only think about adding spaces for more cars, but also add ways to remove vehicular traffic.”
Andy Howard, owner of The Hub Cyclery, will celebrate 8 years of business downtown Feb. 28. He said part of maintaining longevity is staying connected to the community. Although he has succeeded from this growth, there have been limitations.
“There’s not as much parking downtown and the building is over 100 years old, so there’s difficulties,” Howard said. “If you can offer something that the community needs, you’ll stay in business.”
Armbruster said unused land downtown has come onto the tax roll in a significant way. Rather than taking away space from business owners, new shops will be placed in empty lots.
“It’s insane how many more calls and emails we get about people wanting space,” Armbruster said. “An issue that arises from this is where can we put them. Sometimes we just don’t have the vacancy that the demand wants.”
Gregson said apartments in the downtown area help the property value. The Vistas apartment complex was valued at $5 million and is now at $30 million.
“Over the course of the next couple of years, I think residential life downtown will continue to accelerate,” Gregson said.
Armbruster said as Texas State grows and more residents live downtown, there has been a higher demand for new dining areas. According to the Community Impact article, there have been eight additional restaurants established downtown in 2015 alone.
“We aren’t actively going out and finding businesses—they are finding us,” Armbruster said. “The trend here has been more restaurants and we think that will lend to more retail.”