TEXARKANA, Texas — The City Council on Monday voted unanimously to create a downtown entertainment district where open containers of alcohol will be allowed outdoors.
The measure amends the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinance and will go into effect June 24, creating a continuous entertainment district on both sides of the state line downtown. Texarkana, Arkansas, established its district in 2019. Officials hope the plan will be a boost to downtown activity.
“Eventually, I hope it leads to more investment downtown, more businesses, more restaurants, bars. And I hope it will allow residents to enjoy themselves downtown and not have to worry about stepping over the state line,” said Lisa Thompson, city economic development specialist.
The move will provide residents with “a seamless transition between the Arkansas side and Texas side downtown, an opportunity to experience downtown restaurants on both sides,” Interim City Manager David Orr said.
People will be allowed to have open, non-glass containers of alcoholic beverages outdoors in the district, with the exception of Sundays between 2:15 a.m. and noon and other days between 2:15 a.m. and 7 a.m. All other alcohol-related laws, including the need for permits to sell alcohol and the prohibition of open containers in vehicles, will remain in effect.
The district’s boundaries encompass more than 12 city blocks. It will include downtown spots such as the Perot Theatre, the Texarkana Regional Arts Center, the Art Park, the Kress Gap, the Ace of Clubs House, Pecan Point, Silvermoon on Broad and the Farmers’ Market. The Bi-state Justice Building is excluded.
Airport land purchase
The Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the Texarkana Airport Authority to buy 38 acres of land adjacent to Texarkana Regional Airport property. The Texarkana Arkansas Board of Directors must grant its approval during a meeting next week before the purchase can be made.
Added to land the airport already owns, the purchase will result in a block of 120 acres of land available for development, Airport Executive Director Paul Mehrlich told the Council.
“It is our intention to partner with the REDI group and use that for attracting air cargo at the airport,” he said, referring to regional economic development organization AR-TX REDI.
Sidewalk grant applications
The Council approved submitting applications for grants from the Texas Department of Transportation to fund improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
The city will request $1.8 million to build sidewalks along Kennedy Lane and $800,000 for sidewalks along Leopard Lane from two different TxDOT funding programs, Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside, or TASA, and Safe Routes to School-Infrastructure, or SRTS.
SRTS grants do not require matching funds, but TASA grants require a 20% match, which the city would pay with a combination of in-kind labor and cash. Federal transportation development credits could cover the match expenditures.
The Council also conduct hearings and voted to approve a number of rezoning and permitting requests.
A vacant tract of land north of 100 Gazola St. will be rezoned to allow multi-family housing to be built there. The land’s owner is considering donating it to the Mt. Sinai House of Prayer Church, which has proposed several multi-family building projects in the immediate area.
A lot at 302 Daniels St. will be rezoned to allow a double-wide manufactured home there. The Council also approved a special use permit for the site. Another approved request will rezone 605 Ward Ave. to allow a double-wide there.
The Council also approved a site plan for a Panda Express restaurant to be built at 3100 St. Michael Drive.
Community Development Block Grants
The Council heard first briefings on three measures related to federal Community Development Block Grants. Public hearings and votes will follow during the Council’s next scheduled meeting, on July 12.
One would amend the city budget to account for more than $293,000 in CDBG funding received as a result of the COVID-relief CARES Act. The second would reallocate $163,000 from an inactive loan fund to another fund from which CDBG-guaranteed loans are repaid. The third would approve the city’s 2021 action plan for CDBG funds.
Ward 4 Council Member Christie Page was absent from the meeting, so in accordance with the city charter, Mayor Bob Bruggeman participated in voting.