Empty buildings, vacant lots and out of business stores have been an issue in downtown Odessa for quite a while.
“If there were more restaurants, more boutiques, that would be great for downtown,” says Izy Galvan, owner of Izy’s Fine Jewelry downtown.
Galvan has been in the same spot for 14 years and says he’s seen progress being made, but at a slow rate.
“I would say it’s coming slowly. There are a lot of attorneys downtown, but who’s going to shop at an attorney’s office, an attorney can be anywhere. Sorry attorney guys.”
Now there are new efforts to get downtown revitalized. In 2018, the city and stakeholders formed the TIRZ board. It stands for tax increment reinvestment zone, which provides an incentive for businesses to come to downtown.
“You’re trying to get the canvas ready so you can paint the beautiful painting,” says Craig Stoker, chairman of the TIRZ board.
Stoker says the goal is to get more mixed use development downtown, but in the last few years some less noticeable priorities had to be addressed first.
“Last five years may not be obvious to some,” says Stoker. “Resurfaced streets, buried power lines, reconfigured parking, added beautification measures, buffing out curbs.”
Many in the community want to see Odessa improve too. Sondra and Toby Eoff are long-time Odessans who own and helped create the Odessa Marriott downtown.
“I love it when people say oh this beautiful, I can’t believe this is here,” says Sondra. “And I say why wouldn’t it be? There’s a lot of money being made here.”
The Eoffs are investing big into downtown themselves.
“There are things we have in the works to put more bar/restaurant type businesses down here,” says Toby.” I know the city’s original vision was to have more retail and residential downtown.”
Right now the TIRZ board is working on a master plan to lay out the future of downtown. We’re told the process of planning will take about six months.
For more on future developments in downtown Odessa, check out the video above.