Downtown Amarillo Only Needs A Few More Things to be a Success
I was trolling around on Reddit (because it can be funny, let's be honest) and stumbled upon something that made me think.
It was a post that centered around the revitalization of Downtown Amarillo...it was most certainly a hot button topic.
The post in question had its title as the question, which was "Why did downtown AMA fail?", and I have to tell you I've never seen such a wide array of answers with varying opinions and thoughts.
Now, I can't speak on what downtown Amarillo was even 8 months ago, so I can't render an opinion on what it was like before the City started to roll out projects. However, I can say that the time I've spent down there, I've wondered why it doesn't seem to be a bit more livelier.
Let's start with Hodgetown. This is the one that gets people going. The prospect of having a stadium or arena in the heart of the city is an exciting one. In theory, it would be a huge draw and bring traffic to the business district.
I lived in Denver when they built Coors Field for the Colorado Rockies. I saw firsthand what the stadium did for the surrounding area. Coors Field was built in an area of Denver that was pretty rundown. But the stadium brought bars, restaurants and storefronts to what became known as "LoDo", short for lower downtown.
When you look across the street from Hodgetown, what is there? There's a whole stretch of storefronts that remain empty that in theory should be filled with bars, other places to eat, etc. We've got the restaurants on Polk street, but there could be something even closer.
Another key to success for a thriving downtown scene are nice, swanky hotels. This is one area where downtown Amarillo is doing alright.
The Embassy Suites that overlooks Hodgetown is exactly the kind of hotel needed. It's right in the heart of the city and within walking distance to the ballpark and restaurants, and nightlife.
The Barfield Hotel that recently opened is the definition of swanky and exactly what people on a staycation are looking for. Complete with a speakeasy, it offers up some of (if not THE) best rooms to get in Amarillo.
The question remains though, what is the purpose of having these perfectly coiffed and located hotels in a downtown area that doesn't have anything going on?
But not so fast, that leads me to the next point...
Where is it?? We have students attending Amarillo College as well as West Texas A&M in Canyon that are craving for a couple of clubs to hit up.
When I lived in Fort Collins, home of Colorado State University, I used to be a DJ at a bar/club for several years. I can tell you that the downtown Fort Collins area came alive at night starting on Thursday. Packed with people ranging in ages from 21-45 just looking to let off some steam and enjoy an evening out. As the night started to wind down, you'd see food trucks and vendors setup on the street and everyone of them just packed with people looking for that late night bite.
Polk street is halfway there, why not keep the ball rolling?
Now, with everything I've gone through, it's very possible that COVID threw a major wrench into the revitalization of downtown Amarillo. People that may have had the capital and plans to open up shop in the area may no longer have it.
However, with the "new normal" we always talk about, it appears we are getting closer and closer to pre-pandemic levels as far as people going out to eat or enjoy an evening at their favorite bar. To me, now would be a great time to hop in one of those empty storefronts and setup shop.
Downtown Amarillo can be a happening scene, but it's going to take potential business owners to take a look and set up shop there. The infrastructure seems to be there, the built-in clientele is definitely there especially during the Sod Poodles season. I also believe the want for patrons to head out for a night on the town is there.
I've noticed Amarillo has a tendency to shut down by 10pm in most places....yet the people are still awake and about. If you give the people a place to go after that time, you'll be satisfying a HUGE want for the people of Amarillo.