Heart of the High Plains: Center City of Amarillo

Heart of the High Plains

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) —Since 1996, Center City of Amarillo has made it their mission to revitalize and bring back historic downtown.

“It may seem like we’re a bit of an overnight success with some of the great things that we’ve been able to do downtown but we’ve been at this for a long time,” said Beth Duke, Center City Executive Director.

Center City of Amarilo got its start after a group of concerned citizens set out to save historic downtown.

Duke said it really gained traction in 2008.

“Our city adopted a downtown strategic action plan and we’re enjoying some of those benefits of that plan today. Because the main things from that plan were a downtown convention center hotel, a downtown ballpark or outdoor venue and then all the great things we’ve been able to do with historic preservation, the sod grants,” said Duke.

One of the biggest additions was Hodgetown, which saw major success in its first year serving as the home stadium for the Sod Poodles.

“The Sod Poodles in their first season brought 400,000 people downtown. The sales tax went through the roof. It brought so many people downtown,” said Duke.

The annual community market will also be continuing but in a different location.

“This year we are working very closely with the city to move it to the grounds of the historic Santa Fe Depot. The Depot is a wonderful historic venue. It has six and a half acres. We know we can keep everyone safe and healthy with social distancing and we look forward to opening that this summer because people have gotten accustomed to market,” said Duke.

While some downtown restaurants were hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic, Duke says it showed their resiliency and the importance of supporting local.

“They were able to do curbside dining, a lot of takeout. Some have opened up gradually but it’s still very tough, a lot of people struggled. We had some people that lost their jobs and we’re just hoping that as more people get back out, they remember how important it is to support local restaurants,” said Duke.

For more information regarding Center City and their ongoing events, click here: https://centercity.org/

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