Harlingen Downtown’s champion is retiring after 20 years with city

HARLINGEN — More than 10 years ago, Cheryl LaBerge began to help transform the city’s downtown from a struggling business area to an award-winning historical district.

Empty storefronts stood aside fledgling shops and restaurants along historic Jackson Street.

So she focused on revitalizing the area where Heritage Manor was beginning its transformation into the Reese.

“There were a lot of buildings that needed some TLC,” LaBerge said yesterday. “We’ve gotten a lot of buildings fixed up and occupied. A lot more properties have sold. There has been a lot of importance put into property improvements, sidewalks, landscaping and making sure downtown looks attractive 24-7.”

For the last 10 years, the National Main Street Center has awarded the city recognition for its downtown revitalization program.

“It’s a challenge,” LaBerge said. “Adaptive reuse of buildings is not easy — taking older buildings and bringing them to current code for today’s marketplace. It’s repurposing buildings that develop the core of your community.”

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