Years of success — downtown earns honor

HARLINGEN — It’s 11 and counting.

Downtown Harlingen again has been designated as a Main Street City both in Texas and nationally.

Downtown Manager Edward Meza said yesterday it marks the 11th straight year the city’s historic downton has been recognized with the Main Street designation.

“This is not like, ‘oh everybody gets one, a participation award,’” Meza said.

“You have to show what you’ve done and they check it out,” Meza added. “What they do this for, too, is that any ideas they like they use them for training for other Main Street cities and for people who are coming into the program.”

Meza credited his predecessor, Cheryl LaBerge, for her efforts to establish Harlingen as a Main Street City, one of only four in the Rio Grande Valley. The others are Brownsville, Pharr and Rio Grande City.

“A lot of this thanks goes to Cheryl because she brought us to a level of national recognition since she started,” Meza said.

Meza was hired by the city following LaBerge’s retirement last year.

“Every time there’s a new manager, they have new manager training,” he said. “I just came back from it two weeks ago in Georgetown (Texas), and lo and behold, the training used Harlingen as an example of excellence.

“The Downtown Coffee was recognized as being very innovative and bringing the community together,” he said.

“The Christmas lights that we did last year?” Meza said. “They recognized that, too.”

In the Rio Grande Valley




Rio Grande City

Main Street Cities

The national Main Street revitalization effort for historic downtowns was formed more than 35 years ago, and there has been a statewide Texas program since that time operating via the Texas Historical Commission. The Texas Main Street Program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation, with 89 designated communities.

How Main Street Cities are selected

ORGANIZATION — Partnerships are essential for successful preservation-based downtown revitalization. Through a solid Main Street structure, many groups that share an interest in the health of downtown come together to work toward an agreed-upon vision for downtown and thus, for the community.

PROMOTION — This aspect of the approach is utilized to market a unified, quality image of the business district as the center of activities, goods and services.

DESIGN — Capitalizing on the downtown’s unique physical assets and heritage, design activities such as building rehabilitations, utilization of preservation-based tools and ordinances and effective planning practices help to create an active district and maintain its authenticity.

ECONOMIC VITALITY — In this area, a targeted program is developed to identify new market opportunities for the commercial district, find new uses for historic commercial buildings, and stimulate investment in property.

Source: Texas Main Street Program