Yoakum’s downtown National Register District (NRD) project reaches a milestone next month when the completed historic resources survey is submitted to the Texas Historical Commission (THC). “The historic resources survey is the backbone of the National Register District nomination process,” said Rebecca Borchers, lead consultant on the project. It contains a wealth of historical and architectural information on about 120 downtown properties. If all goes well, Yoakum should have its district by fall 2018.
What is next for the future downtown historic district? In a similarly sized community 30 minutes from Austin, a downtown vision was created that embodies a live/work/shop/play focus on artisans. A zoning overlay was created to match that vision. The overlay defines the desired uses while exempting it from typical zoning requirements. For example, the citizens did not desire new industrial development downtown. However, craftsmen whose industrial-artist talents (jewelry and glass makers, potters, iron artists and others) are both allowed and encouraged to live and work downtown. The town fulfilled its vision by matching its assets (space, affordability) with a nearby dynamic (high-priced Austin squeezing out artists). The outcomes are (a) artisans as residents and workers and (b) an inflow of tourists as shoppers.
What are Yoakum’s assets? Let’s start with 80,000 square feet of upper floor space that historic tax credits can help convert to 100 apartments. Another 30,000 square feet of underutilized first floor space could house thirty or more small businesses. What about the nature of Yoakum’s workforce and existing businesses? I met a woman from North Texas who traveled to Yoakum recently so her husband could buy a leather belt. What does that say about assets in Yoakum?
Would you help shape the vision of downtown Yoakum? The Downtown Vision Survey will be open from Thanksgiving to Christmas at www.YoakumEDC.com. The results will be published in January. Please participate and share with your friends and neighbors!