Sidewalks, renovation, antiques recommended

Downtown master plan presented on Monday

Fix the sidewalks, restore the storefronts, recruit antique stores to make downtown Rockdale a destination.

Thos e wer e among the “high-priority” suggestions in a downtown master plan unveiled Monday at the Patterson Center in a joint meeting of the Rockdale Downtown Association, City of Rockdale and Municipal Development District.

The plan, prepared by Halff Associates, is divided into three sections, appearance, building restoration and occupancy and making downtown Rockdale a destination.

It lists 23 specific suggestions and ranks 11 “very high” priority.

SIDEWALKS—The plan terms downtown Rockdale sidewalks— especially a stretch on Milam from Main to the Kay Theatre— as “significant unattractive features in the downtown area, also creates walking hazards.”

It recommends pursuing grants and partnerships to fix the sidewalks.

It also recommends safety and appearance code enforcement to “quickly address appearance issues” downtown.

STOREFRONTS—The plan gives an “implement immediately” priority to improving facades (storefronts).

It suggests low-interest loans, building renovation incentives, vacant building incentives and a building lease rate analysis.

ANTIQUES—The plan’s main suggestion for making downtown a destination is to pursue creation of an “antiques concentration” in Rockdale.

It suggests using existing businesses as mentors to pursue other antique businesses.

Other “destination suggestions include a “business incubator” (see story page 1A), arts entity or entities, frequent weekend events at Wolf Park, Friday night music events in the park, farmers markets and completion of Kay Theatre renovation.

COST—Halff estimates these, and more than a dozen other recommendations, would carry about a $3 million price tag.

In addition to grants, the master plan lists potential funding sources as the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Parks & Wildlife, the City of Rockdale, MDD, Rockdale Chamber of Commerce, Rockdale Downtown Association, private business owners, private fund-raising, fund-raising events and area financial institutions.

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