Downtown Midland Development Continues Despite Economy

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- The economy may be slowing, but lofty plans for Midland's Downtown are moving forward says Midland Development Corporation Board Member Laura Roman.

"I think downtown is still one of the most viable places in Midland to do business." Roman said.

Instead of going out of town, Roman says more folks will stay downtown to spend their extra money.

"The cheaper option is to actually stay in Midland and you can still go downtown and the restaurants are full." Roman told Newswest 9.

The Martini Glass Grill opened its doors early this year. The restaurant started serving food in February. The martini bar is expected to open in March.

"I would love for more clubs or restaurants to move in downtown, not for the competition but for Midland itself." Robert Leyba, the grill owner said sitting on a plush red sofa in one of the restaurants many VIP lounge areas.

The restaurant is charging $10 for people who wish to bring in alcohol and do not eat, until the liquor license is approved. Leyba and his wife wanted to bring an upscale entertainment venue to West Texas.

"It's a big risk, but if I didn't try it I would always wonder. Right?" Leyba laughed.

Parking is still one issue the Midland Development Corporation hopes to improve. Roman also expects renovations, slated to start this year at Centennial Plaza will draw developers in time.

"It's just like everything, the economy is slowing down those projects, but it has not halted them or caused them to stop going forward with us." Roman said.

The old Ritz Theater is one project that is in limbo. The planning and zoning commission denied Joel Contreras's request to turn the theater into a nightclub. Contreras appealed the commission and hopes to hear back in April.

"If you pass by there at night it is pretty pretty dead. Very disappointing. Streets are empty and all that and brining business there will make it alive. Hopefully we will have that opportunity." Contreras said.