After a tour of Sulphur Springs Tuesday, international development consultant Roger Brooks had high praise for the work that has been done and said there is much that still needs to be done.
“I'll tell you, what you got here is world class,” Brooks said to an interested group of a couple hundred Tuesday at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center. “I think everything you are doing downtown is just amazing, but what you've done is set up the infrastructure. Now you have got to get things in the buildings that are going to make you a draw. I think you've done the first part, making downtown a spectacular setting.”
Brooks, who has consulted in hundreds of cities in the United States, Canada and Europe, compared Sulphur Springs with Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country.
“I mean, it is really, really something great you have here. You know what I think the coolest thing is?” he asked. “Those bathrooms on the plaza — that's a tourist attraction all by itself. Whatever it takes to get people downtown. Once you get people out of their cars, you have a four times greater chance of getting them to spend money.”
Brooks had some recommendations after touring the parks and airport and spending several hours visting the downtown area.
“Little things,” Brooks said. “You know, right next to the Chamber of Commerce, those two garage doors. I thought, 'Oh my gosh, wouldn't those be cool if they rolled up at night and there was little pub in there; and out in front, you lose those three parking spaces, you make that a little plaza with tables and chairs. Or, you put a glass-blowing artist in there.'”
He also mentioned the blank wall on the west side of Hopkins County Appraisal District where buskers, entertainers and vendors and even food trucks could be placed.
To make downtown a destination, Brooks said the area needed to be “branded.” Concepts such as a historic district will not draw visitors needed to make the district grow.
“I think the big deal is you have to orchestrate the business mix in downtown, you have to go figure out what do we want to be known for,” he said. “Is it antiques? Is it music? Is it art? What do we want to be known for — and now, let's go get our merchants and help put them in these buildings so it just doesn't end up being a hodge-podge mix.”
Brooks said there needs to be something along Interstate 30 directing people to the downtown area.
“There is not one single sign that says anywhere that there is a downtown,” he said. “This is something you need to do because you've got all these people staying in the hotels, and what happens is when they are staying out there they are spending their money out there. You want those people in your downtown so it becomes your centerpiece — otherwise, you are going to keep growing along the freeway, and you know how that is if you've ever gone up I-35 and I-45.”
In presenting his “20 Ingredients of an Outstanding Destination,” Brooks highlighted things that have been done in many cities ranging in small communities with only a thousand or so residents to those cities with hundreds of thousands of residents.
In throwing out some “wild ideas and planting seeds,” the international destination development consultant said the city of Sulphur Springs has the framework in place, and businesses and property owners now need to go to work.
|< Prev||Next >|