The message from urban retail expert Bob Gibbs in his presentation to residents and business people on Wednesday, February 17, was the level of pent-up demand for stores, restaurants and lodging in Las Cruces’s Downtown and in nearby neighborhoods.
“For your city to be sustainable,” Gibbs told attendees, “it has to be more than just environmentally sustainable. It has to be economically sustainable.” And what his firm’s analysis suggests, said Gibbs, is that “there’s no question in our mind that your Downtown has the potential for being a very viable shopping area.”
The Wednesday discussion and Q&A about business growth feeds into the broader discussion for the update of the City’s Downtown Master Plan. On Thursday, February 18, at 10 a.m. in Shannon Room at the Branigan Cultural Center, the consulting team will “pin up” work in progress towards a draft of the Plan. Then, on Friday evening at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers, there will be a wrap-up presentation responding to the four days of idea-testing and refinement. For more details on the week’s full schedule, go here.
What the Gibbs market analysis projects is an immediate demand for almost 105,000 square feet of retail in the “trade area” that includes the Downtown and nearby neighborhoods. You can check out the full reports by Gibbs and the residential market analyses by Zimmerman/Volk Associates, here.
The challenge, of course, is making the most of the projected demand. Gibbs summarizes the key points in this video, then spends some one-on-one time with local store owners, coaching them on proven strategies for increasing sales.
The necessity of thinking of opportunities for areas beyond just Main Street was underlined by business people and non-profit leaders who attended the opening night session, as well as the Wednesday, February 17, afternoon meeting focusing on neighborhood issues. In both discussions, attendees reminded the consulting team that the nearby historic neighborhoods of Mesquite and Alameda Depot Districts need to be included in the planning.
Where the needs of the Downtown and the neighborhoods clearly overlap — and where, therefore, there are opportunities for collaboration — is in the necessity to improve safe and appealing connectivity between Downtown and the neighborhoods. That theme is a major part of the presentation and discussion on Thursday, February 18, at 1:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers by transportation engineer Peter Swift. We expect the same enthusiastic attendance for that event that we’ve enjoyed at other meetings during the week.
Hope to see you there and at the other events that conclude the four days of collaboration. But if you can’t attend in person, you can follow progress, as usual, here on the website.