The Downtown Management District is on a mission to create a vibrant and successful bayfront for Corpus Christi while supporting local businesses.
By: Jessica Dusek
Photos by: Paul Marshall
Spearheading initiatives to preserve Corpus Christi’s rich history, the Downtown Management District (DMD) oversees the city’s enhancements toward aesthetic restoration. Building their vision on four pillars, the organization focuses on “economic vitality, promotion, organization and design,” explains DMD Executive Director Terry Sweeney. Enhancing the downtown atmosphere, “We work with business owners on ideas and updates, improving signage and how to utilize the beautiful original elements of the building,” explains Barbie Baker, DMD merchants and special event manager.
The governmental entity was established under Chapter 375 of Corpus Christi’s Water Code in 1993 with a petition by the majority of property owners. “We work hard to market and promote businesses and opportunities in the district,” Baker explains. “We work with stakeholders to address critical issues that affect our merchants, business residents, visitors and tourists.” Their mission is to create a successful and vibrant bayfront for Corpus Christi while supporting local businesses. Supported by DMD Finance and Operations Manager Alan Albin, the staff of three upholds a great deal of responsibility, guiding Corpus Christi’s progression for the enjoyment of locals and tourists visiting South Texas.
Recently making statewide news, the Texas Main Street Presentation gathered hundreds in the streets of Corpus Christi. Decorated with Texas flag ribbons, the city hosted a visit from the Cecilia Abbott, First Lady of Texas, on May 6. The celebration observed the DMD’s selection to participate in an exclusive program for city reclamation and restoration. Open to the public, this was the very first time Corpus Christi was selected for the Texas Historical Commission program to enhance the downtown arts district – quite an honor to host the calendared event.
“This is a watershed moment for downtown revitalization,” Sweeney says. The First Lady was presented with a book to sign that was then returned to a local elementary school. Following the ceremony, the celebration led the crowd to the local Education Service Center. “The reception was a chance for the public to celebrate the occasion and share one-on-one interaction with Mrs. Abbott,” Baker says.
In and around town
The Marina Arts District covers the downtown area from 37 to Kenny. Every Friday, the DMD hosts the First Friday Art Walk, a tradition since 2009. The Art Walk provides the opportunity for local artists to showcase their work with a relevant focus on local business. “The purpose of the Art Walk and Bridge Walk is to pull in the community to gain awareness of local business in a fun environment,” Baker explains. The Bridge Walk takes place the first Sunday of every month.
Lending a hand
“We are continually recruiting and working with volunteers to do these events and promotions, such as Texas Main Street Program, to build downtown Corpus Christi toward its potential,” Baker says. DMD also manages the Downtown Ambassadors, known as the “Clean Team,” which was established by DMD three years ago. Under supervision by Albin, the crew works every day picking up trash and keeping downtown clean.
Volunteers continue to be the backbone of the organization’s success. Proactively working with strategic partners, the DMD hosts clean-up projects and aesthetic restoration. From the downtown farmers’ market held every Wednesday at 5 p.m. to the Art Walk hosted every Friday, the DMD continues to support to the local business culture.
Reinforcing safety in the community, Albin also manages an off-duty police bike patrol and more recently established a late night off-duty police walking patrol to create a visible presence for the bar scene. “The off-duty patrols enhance safety and perception of safety, making people feel comfortable coming downtown,” Albin says. “It’s a vital part of our foundation to create a cleaner, safer more vibrant and successful downtown.”
For more information on the Downtown Management District, please visit www.marinaarts.com.