KILLEEN, TX — Killeen's revitalization team are hoping the uniqueness of historic downtown will attract aspiring business owners and investors to revamp the economy of north Killeen areas.
The team behind the restoration efforts say this area has a rich history that's attractive to many current business owners.
They are hoping a variety of grants and other monetary incentives will get others here.
"The downtown is the heart of our city, it’s the living room of our economy," said Deirdre Kirk.
Flash back to the 1930's, downtown Killeen was booming.
Though the area isn't as robust today, revitalization planner Deirdre Kirk says they are constantly working to reboot the area.
"We have a lot of investors wanting to be part of this atmosphere down here. You know with the artwork that we have down here in the vegetation there’s a lot of available properties down here," Kirk said.
However this isn’t happening overnight.
Kirk says back in August, there was a 43% vacancy rate in the downtown historic district, which was around that rate before the pandemic.
Now, ordinances, like the vacant building registry, address this problem and gives aspiring business owners many options to choose from.
"There’s going to be a lot more available properties for people to take on active businesses," she said.
Waving building permitting fees, reimbursement opportunities for leans, and even a facade grant specific to downtown, continues to attract entrepreneurs like Josie McKinney to Killeen.
"I drove all over Texas looking for a community that had the love of their downtown but we’re still working on bringing it back because I want to be a part of the effort," said McKinney.
Coming from Alaska, McKinney says something about the old mid-century office building, that is now her farm to table restaurant Let's Eat Texas, just felt like home.
"This is a labor of love for me, you know it's important for people to see what you can do with these buildings and show their pride of history," she said.
In just a year and a half, she's completely remodeled the building, is now the President of the Merchants Association, and continues to immerse herself into downtown Killeen.
"It’s super exciting for me to see any improvements that happens, it’s exciting to see owners that take ownership and pride in the buildings that they are occupying. I’m just really excited to see that keep moving forward," said McKinney.
"We have a lot of people that are working together to try and revitalize the area, a lot of positive influences, and a lot of potential to be had," said Kirk.
Kirk hopes stories like McKinney's inspires aspiring business owners to take a chance and start their business in downtown Killeen.
To get a break down of the available properties you can visit the city of Killeen's website.