Odessa Non-Profit Dreams of Creating New Downtown

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--Main Street Odessa is spearheading a campaign that would bring more shops, restaurants and residential opportunities and keep the history of downtown, at the same time.

As NewsWest 9 found out, many of the ideas are coming from residents themselves.

Main Street has a lot of ideas on what they want the project to be like. But, much what may eventually come into downtown, will be based on the results of a survey, asking Odessa residents, what "they" want.

"We have well over 5,000 people, people who work in the downtown area and come in daily," Nancy Wells, Executive Director of Main Street Odessa, said.

It's been a common and consistently heard question all across Odessa. 'When are we going to get a new, something?' Using a simple 15-question survey, Main Street Odessa was determined to find out what residents wanted, if they could see it in downtown.

"There were about 50% of the respondents, who were very interested in residential living, in the downtown area. We're going to use the information that we received to go approach developers and find out exactly what it is that we can do to bring them here to create the retail and residential infrastructure to enhance downtown," Wells explained.

Along with residential, comes the commercial. More places to stop, shop and maybe even get a little T-L-C.

"We've been here 18 years now and we sort of expected everyone to follow suit. We saw retail businesses popping up and that kind of thing. It's been slow to happen, but it is happening," Dale Jenkins, owner of Proteus Salon and Spa, said.

With major expansion projects taking place at both hospitals and a downtown already brimming with law offices, even the professionals want to get in on the action.

Odessa attorney, Joel Roberts says, "They would like to have lofts, condominiums, residential places in downtown Odessa, that would be close to their work. Also, they would like to have additional retail services."

Thanks to a $1.43 million grant from TXDOT in 2010, Main Street Odessa kicked off a 12-block rehabilitation project stretching from Golder Avenue to North Adams.

Wells says, the plan picked up speed and kept on going, "It was kind of, the impetus. The project itself is $1.8 million and we felt we had a certain momentum going, with that project and we wanted to push it forward."

The downtown project, obviously, would be a huge to boost the economy.  Another plus, downtown Odessa already has everything it needs for any new addition, buildings, infrastructure and especially interest.

"Our vision of downtown is one of vitality, a lot of people living and working downtown," Wells said.

"I would like to see a lot of mixed use in downtown Odessa, a lot of residential, a lot more retail," Roberts added.

According to Jenkins, "Everything doesn't have to happen in Northeast Odessa."

While it's too early to announce start and finish dates for the project, Main Street Odessa says this is definitely a work in progress.