An abundance of single-family residences near Center Street has proven to be a difficult workaround for the city’s vision of a vibrant, booming downtown sector.
City leaders are looking toward Uptown Kyle, located near Plum Creek, for future development, which includes the possibility of relocating Kyle City Hall.
Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell has observed the dilemma in downtown and wants to keep those neighborhoods intact and out of the jaws of gentrification. However, the vision for a walkable, livable, mixed-use Uptown Kyle would need the support of the entire council and developers.
“The truth is, for the last three or four years, my heart has bled for downtown revitalization,” Mitchell said. “The problem isn’t the residential population downtown because you need density. The problem is we have a lot of single-family homes, and that a vertical, dense downtown may not be attractive to those homeowners.”
Mitchell said the city is looking towards Uptown as a way to promote this vision. However, if the city continues funneling dollars towards downtown revitalization, it would make the Uptown projects difficult to pursue.
For some residents, the prospect of developing the downtown sector offers a mixture of reactions.
Liz, a resident who lives in the downtown area, said development could raise property values in the area, which could be lucrative for her family.
For Luke Lathrop, living downtown strikes a balance between peaceful living and vibrancy.
Undisturbed by the hustle and bustle of Center Street, Lathrop and his family live peacefully despite residing on the periphery of retail spaces.
“I like living close to our local shops, but we also enjoy our neighborhood and the people that make downtown special,” Lathrop said. “It’s just a balance. Too much development could hurt us. Too little wouldn’t allow us to enjoy downtown.”
Four dominoes of Uptown
Mitchell said there are four “dominoes,” or key components, that would make Uptown successful.
This includes a hotel or convention center, as well as relocating city hall and making it an anchor tenant of a commercial building, retail and residential units. Mitchell also envisions a 10- to 12-field soccer complex to house tournaments and visitors.
Though the plan might be ambitious, Mitchell said he believes these are the components for Uptown’s success. Moving city hall to Uptown as an anchor tenant of a five- or six-story retail building could also bring further investment to the area.
This move would also allow the Kyle Police Department to find a new home at the current city hall. Mitchell said the Kyle Police Department desperately needs a larger building for its operations.
“I feel that Uptown is the greatest chance we have to create a destination area without alienating and gentrifying residents who live downtown,” Mitchell said. “I’m hoping the council decides to look at downtown as a preservation district, so we can invest in Uptown.”
For now, local downtown residents such as Lathrop still believe downtown can co exist as a retail and as single-family space.
“I would tell city leaders, whatever direction they pursue, to remember the residents who live here,” Lathrop said. “I’m not against local shops coming to the area. I think it’s great. But keep development right in the heart of downtown.”