The Navasota City Council held a Special Meeting workshop Jan.23 to receive the results of the Downtown Navasota Assessment Report conducted by Texas Downtown in 2022. Economic Development Director Rayna Teicheira presented the results.
Texas Downtown (TXDT), the only such statewide organization, has conducted downtown assessments through tours and meetings with stakeholders since 2016. Its purpose is to provide recommendations for short-term, midrange and long-term revitalization of downtown districts.
In 2021, the City of Navasota received a grant to fund the entire cost of such an assessment. After allowing time for the completion of the Railroad Street drainage and street project and new business openings, TXDT conducted its assessment of Navasota’s downtown May 13, 2022. The initial observations of the five-member committee were that Navasota is committed to a strong downtown, the Washington Avenue crosswalk bolstered pedestrian safety and Navasota is becoming a destination place for both businesses and locals.
In the short term
Included in the 18 short-term recommendations were leveraging Navasota’s Blues Capitol designation, branding and marketing Navasota as a complete district, establishment of a Downtown Merchant Group, explore year-round Shop Local campaigns, utilize the Visitor’s Center, explore opportunities for upper floor development, provide wayfinding signage and removal of political and hand-written signage as well as signage from businesses which have closed.
According to City Manager Jason Weeks, branding and wayfinding is something actively being pursued.
Citing high availability of downtown parking, the committee suggested one remedy to the “perceived” parking problem is for business owners and employees to leave spots in front of their businesses open for customers. The study pointed out that customers don’t have close-in parking expectations at big box retail stores.
Using drones and cellphone analysis during the Freedom Festival from 6:30-8:30 p.m., the study indicated that out of 252 available parking space, the occupancy rate was 37.6%.
Weeks reminded that parking on the south side of Cedar Creek is in the planning stages following the demolition of the pavilion adjacent to Mance Lipscomb Park.
Mayor Bert Miller proposed that creating loft apartments would “create more need” for parking. Weeks added that he has approached the Navasota Theatre Alliance about purchasing their lot adjacent to City Hall to create additional parking for City vehicles.
It was recommended that the city apply for Main Street City designation and hire Main Street personnel (a Main Street Manager), offer and encourage downtown community housing, incentives and consider additional crosswalks.
Recommendations included long-term infrastructure plans, focusing on Cedar Creek development and enhancing downtown connectivity and walkability – which included utilizing the Railroad Street pedestrian and car bridges.
View city council meetings in their entirety at www.navasotatx.gov/city-council/pages/meeting-videos