ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Board (TIRZ) has voted to move ahead with the renovation of Cypress Street. The board recommended to Council Thursday that more than $500,000 in TIRZ funds be designated to the project – with the additional $300,000 being requested through City Council.

“I think it’s going to be a complete game changer for Downtown and the Cypress Corridor,” Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna bragged.

This project is proposed to link the northern hotel and Abilene Convention Center area to the Southern Arts and Culture District with a cohesive pedestrian-friendly design.

“Creating an ambiance and a feel that helps bring people down town… Creating that sense of place that they want to come to and be at,” Hanna said of what he hoped to accomplish with the makeover.

A previous TIRZ meeting identified the areas where the board hoped to improve. That list included:

▪ Identifying design standard elements for downtown streets
▪ Increasing pedestrian way, or walkability
▪ Lighting and safety
▪ Wayfinding
▪ Sense of place and identity
▪ Improved traffic flow

TIRZ meeting presentation and concept art

The project itself is estimated at more than $9.3 million (exact figure: $9,368,150), although the city is still in its design stage. For engineering and design costs, a figure of $838,000 was presented.

In that previous TIRZ meeting, concerns of overextending the budget on a single project were raised. This is why they have only recommended that $538,000 be taken from TIRZ funds and the rest might be sourced from other revenue areas.

“So my job now, is to take that recommendation to Council,” Hanna explained. “And also ask for an additional $300,000 to completely fund the design associated with this project.”

If approved, the design work can begin and costs can be more accurately calculated for the full completion of the project. Hanna said in ideal conditions the project could be complete as early as the end of fiscal year 2025.

“If you look at other cities that have thriving downtown areas, they all have pedestrian friendly streets… It’s going to create a really nice pedestrian environment for the existing businesses and for new businesses, as well,” Hanna added.