"The Redevelopment of Old Town Helotes"
The Redevelopment of Old Town Helotes Creating a New Downtown Business District Prepared By The Center for Economic Development The Institute for Economic Development The University of Texas at San Antonio Ernest Gerlach, Director Prepared For The Economic Development Corporation Board City of Helotes – Jim McKinney, President December 2004 Research Team Ernest Gerlach, Director Center for Economic Development, The University of Texas at San Antonio Mike Cline, Assistant Director Business and Economic Research Associate III, Small Business Development Center – National Information Clearinghouse - The University of Texas at San Antonio Bob Orr, Project Facilitator i Executive Summary This report conveys the results of an in-depth study of Helotes and its surrounding areas by the Center for Economic Development and reflects the strategic planning efforts of the Board of Directors for the Helotes Economic Development Corporation. In addition, Helotes residents and business owners contributed their vision for Helotes through several community forums. The report was designed to provide a strategic framework for controlled economic development in the City of Helotes and to identify a plan of action that will create the greatest benefit to the entire city. To accomplish this, the Center for Economic Development conducted an overall assessment of the community and solicited information from local residents. Several key areas were examined, including the community’s historical legacy, demographics, local economy, market base, development potential and prospects for redevelopment in Old Town Helotes. FOCUS The Center for Economic Development, The Economic Development Corporation, and the citizens of Helotes strongly believe that efforts to preserve the unique heritage of Old Town Helotes will be a key investment in the future of Helotes. An important part of the study was to look at the long-term prospects of Old Town Helotes and make recommendations for transforming it into a thriving commercial/cultural/tourist destination that centers around its historic core. The character and charm which have drawn many to Helotes over the years must be retained as a foundation for the future. The report sets the stage for this process by examining what is already in place, proposing a strategy to redevelop the district around a strong theme, and providing a strategic framework to help the community make the critical decisions regarding its long-term development. Three fundamental goals were underscored throughout this effort: (1) To preserve the originality of Helotes and maintain its rural image and small town feel. (2) To improve the economic viability of the Old Town Helotes business district: expand its ability to support additional businesses, enhance its revenue base and increase its attractiveness as a destination for local shoppers as well as visitors and tourists. (3) To encourage and assist existing businesses in Old Town Helotes and attract new businesses that will fit the Helotes brand and are focused on the arts, crafts and specialty items, food and entertainment. ii RECOMMENDATIONS This report summarized the results of the Center’s research and offers several major recommendations to facilitate the redevelopment of the Old Town. The recommendations presented in the study suggest several initiatives designed to preserve and enhance Old Town. Implementation High priority should be given to the establishment of an implementation group or task force composed of civic and business leaders, local residents, public officials and city staff to spearhead the long-term redevelopment and revitalization of Old Town Helotes. Old Town’s tremendous potential will be realized only if the community is willing to invest in it. Business District The establishment of a special B3 business district with a limited schedule of uses is strongly recommended for Old Town Helotes. Master Plan The development of a master plan for the district should be pursued to guide the district’s long-term revitalization and redevelopment efforts. Old Town Character The reaffirmation of the district’s historic core and legacy as a key element in redeveloping Old Town Helotes should be stressed. Business Retention The establishment of strong links to peer support, training resources, and technical and financial advice for existing businesses is highly recommended as a foundation for growth. Business Recruitment The development of a business targeting study and recruitment strategy is important to establish the district as a unique shopping and entertainment destination and should be given a high priority by the City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation. Marketing Plan The creation of a broad based, comprehensive marketing and promotional effort to strengthen the district’s visibility and competitive advantages should be pursued. Financial Strategy The creation of a long-term strategy to finance the redevelopment and revitalization of the Old Town Helotes District should be given high priority. Economic Development In Helotes Preserving the Heritage of Old Town Helotes Table of Contents Executive Summary Chapter 1. The City of Helotes – Setting the Stage. A. Introduction 1 B. Historical Legacy of Old Helotes 1 C. Socioeconomic Profile 2 Population Base/Composition 3 Age Distribution 6 Income Distribution 7 D. The Economy of Helotes and Northwest Bexar County 7 E. Market Base Dynamics – City of Helotes 9 F. Conclusion 10 End Notes – Chapter 1 10 Chapter 2. Developing the Old Town Helotes District A. Introduction 12 B. Development Strategy – Old Town Helotes District 12 C. Development Scenario for Old Helotes 18 D. Conclusion 20 End Notes – Chapter 2 21 Chapter 3. The Economic/Market Base for Old Town Helotes A. Introduction 23 B. The Market Base for Old Helotes 23 C. Market Trends 25 D. Lifestyle Clusters – Marketing the District 26 E. Economic Development Implications 28 F. Conclusion 30 End Notes – Chapter 3 30 Chapter 4. Development Plan for the Old Town Helotes District A. Introduction 31 B. Developing a Strategic Framework 31 Strategic Framework – Organization 31 Strategic Framework – Enhancing the Physical Environment 32 Strategic Framework – Promoting the District 33 Strategic Framework – Improving its Business Focus 33 iv C. Implementation Strategy 34 Establishing an Implementation Organization 34 Developing a Master Plan for the District 34 Development of a Marketing/Promotional Strategy 35 Establishing a Business Targeting Plan for the District 35 Developing a Strategy for the Districts’ Historic Core 36 D. Financial Strategy 36 Federal Programs 36 State Programs 37 Foundations 38 Local Sources 38 Other Local Options 39 E. Conclusion 40 End Notes – Chapter 4 40 Chapter 5. Findings and Recommendations A. Introduction 41 B. Findings 42 C. Recommendations 44 Attachments A. Profile of General Demographic Characteristics. City of Helotes, Texas. – 2000. B. Helotes Area Demographic and Market Profile. C. Market Profile – City of Helotes, Texas – 2003. D. Business Summary - City of Helotes. E. Sales Tax History – City of Helotes 1983 – 2003. F. Retail Market Place Profile – City of Helotes. G. City of Helotes – Community Forum Summary. H. Photo Survey of the Old Town Helotes District. I. Historical Overview of Helotes and the Old Town Helotes District. J. Old Town Helotes District – Recommended Schedule of Uses. v Chapter 1. The City of Helotes – Setting the Stage A. Introduction Like many suburban communities in the San Antonio metropolitan area the City of Helotes is undergoing rapid changes. Located in the northwest sector of Bexar County, Helotes is being buffeted by unprecedented population growth in the area, an ever-expanding commercial sector especially along Highway 16, and a strong housing market. This growth, in turn, is being fueled by its strategic location within San Antonio’s northwest corridor, and its proximity to several economic growth hubs in the area including Sea World, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Northwest Vista Community College. Helotes is poised for even greater growth in the years ahead as new housing subdivisions take shape around it, and new businesses continue to locate along Highway 16, which serves as its main connecting link to the larger metropolitan region. These kinds of development offer tremendous opportunities and challenges for Helotes. If, however, Helotes is to take advantage of its opportunities and strategic location, it must begin to focus its efforts on strengthening its assets. One of these assets is Old Town Helotes, which is located between Bandera Road and Old Bandera Road/Highway 16. An important part of this study was to look at the long-term prospects of Old Town Helotes, and how it could be developed into a downtown business district centered around its historic core. The purpose of this report is to set the stage for this process by examining what is already in place, proposing a strategy to redevelop the District around a strong theme, and providing a strategic framework to help the community make the critical decisions it needs to make regarding its long-term development. To accomplish this, the Center for Economic Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio under the leadership of the city’s Economic Development Corporation Board conducted an overall assessment of the community and its local economy; convened several community forums to solicit information from local residents; analyzed its prospects for future growth; and, examined some of the things that will need to be done in the coming years to transform Old Town Helotes into a thriving commercial/cultural/tourist destination for the City of Helotes. This report summarizes the results of the Center’s research and offers several major recommendations to facilitate the redevelopment of Old Town Helotes. B. Historical Legacy of Old Helotes The first known record of property ownership in the Helotes area dates from 1836. However the area was not really settled until the 1850’s. Around 1855 the Helotes area was settled by Mexicans. These early Mexican settlers intermarried with Apache Indians that already lived in the area. According to the Texas State Historical Association write-up on Helotes, a man named Chaca was supposed to have been the first person to build a house and cultivate a cornfield at the site. This person may have also been responsible for its name, which in Spanish means, “green roasting ear of corn”. In a 1990 study titled: A Concept Plan for Old Helotes, conducted by the School of Architecture and the Division of Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio, it was noted that during the 1 late 1850’s several land transactions took place that established what is now known as “Old Helotes.” In 1873 a post office was established in Helotes. By 1885, Old Helotes had a hotel, a school, a general store, a blacksmith and a population of 50.(1) During the early years of the 20th Century Helotes grew rapidly. By 1914, its population had increased to 700. However, during the 15 year period ranging from 1930 to 1945, the population in Helotes fell to 100. It was not until the 1960’s that its population began to increase again. In 1982, the population had grown to 475. The town incorporated in the 1980’s, and by 1990 it had a population of around 1,500. By 2000, it housed 4,285 people, 1,471 households, and 1,291 families.Today, it houses nearly 4,600 people. The area around Helotes has grown as well. Spurred on by new commercial and housing developments in the Highway 16 corridor north of Loop 1604, Helotes and the surrounding area is rapidly becoming a major hub for northwestern Bexar County and is considered to be one of the fastest growing areas in the San Antonio metropolitan area. Despite this tremendous growth the area known as the Old Town Helotes District has remained relatively isolated. This historical core houses several well-known businesses such as Floores Country Store, which serves as a major entertainment attraction for the community and the surrounding area. The District also houses a restaurant, several public institutions and facilities, and a number of retail businesses. In contrast, the frontage area along Highway 16 which literally divides Helotes almost in half, has become a major commercial corridor drawing shoppers from throughout the northwestern sector of Bexar County and beyond. One of the goals of the Helotes Economic Development Corporation Board is to transform the Old Town Helotes District and its historic core into a destination for tourists and others by capitalizing on its strategic location, marketability and historic assets. C. Socioeconomic Profile. The development of the Old Town Helotes District into a tourist destination and downtown business district will have significant economic implications for the community as a whole. Equally important is its potential impact on residents already in Helotes. This section looks at some of these impacts by examining several key socioeconomic characteristics including the community’s population base, age structure and income levels. Subsequent sections will then look at its external economic and market base. This is important because it is likely that Helotes will draw a major portion of its shoppers from outside its jurisdiction. Its local economy will also dictate who will shop and do business in Helotes. Both will have an impact on the community’s revenue base. Much of the data used in this and subsequent sections is drawn from the 2000 Census, and the Centers own research. In addition, it incorporates data derived from an analysis of Helotes’s trade/market areas developed by the Institute for Economic Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio. 2 Figure 1.1 describes the overall layout and zoning base for Helotes. Figure 1.2 describes its demographic and market areas. The area is divided into three major trade/market areas. The primary trade/market area for Helotes is located within a 5 mile zone. Two additional zones are included as well. One zone lies about 10 miles outside the core area that comprises Helotes commercial district. Another is located some 15 miles out. It is important to note that the market area of a community is different from its political boundaries. One of the key assumptions underlying this analysis is that residents within these three zones serve as the primary market for businesses in Helotes. The secondary market for Helotes is the larger area encompassed by the San Antonio metropolitan region. While many in the region are served by other communities and shopping areas, a significant number will be drawn to Helotes because of its special flavor. As noted earlier, the goal of the study is to transform the Old Town Helotes District into a major tourist attraction and destination. If this occurs, it will be able to draw on that new market base. Attachment A provides a comprehensive overview of Helotes’s population, socioeconomic characteristics and economy based on the 2000 census. Attachment B includes a detailed description of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the population within each trade/market zone. An overall market profile for Helotes is included in Attachment C. Population Base/Composition According to the latest Census, Helotes had a population of 4,285 in 2000. Population estimates developed by ESRI for 2003/2004 put the current population total at 4,674. They also project a 2008 population of 5,183 for Helotes, based on an annual growth rate of 2.09% (See Attachment C, Page 1 of 8). White/Non-Hispanics, according to the 2000 Census, made up 2,869 or 67.0% of the population in Helotes, while Hispanics comprised 1,135 or 26.5% of the total. African and Asian Americans constituted about 2.5% of the population, while other minorities made up about 2.0%. ESRI estimates for 2003/2004 show a slightly higher number of Hispanics residing in Helotes. However, by 2008, ESRI projects that Hispanics will comprise about 31.2% of the population in the community. They also show an increasing Diversity Index for Helotes. In 2000, they estimated a Diversity Index of 53.8% for the community. By 2008, they estimate that Helotes will have an Index of 58.1%. The composition of the population in Helotes has remained relatively stable over the years. So has its racial/ethic composition. Starting in the 1990’s, however, the population composition began to change as more minorities moved into the community. The rate of population growth also increased slightly as new residential areas within the political boundaries of Helotes were developed. These trends are still evident today. Overall, Helotes has become more racially and ethnically diverse, reflecting city, state and national population trends. 3 Age Distribution The median age for residents in Helotes was 38.9 years in 2000. In comparison, the median for the San Antonio metropolitan area was 31.7 years. The state’s median was 39.2 years in 2000. Just over 29.0% of the population in Helotes was under the age of 20 in 2000. At the same time the percentage of young adults (ages 25-44) residing in Helotes in 2000 was around 35.0%. In 2003, it was estimated to be 26.4%. By 2008, the number of young adults living in Helotes is expected to decline to 23.5%. These figures reflect an increasingly older population base for Helotes over the next five to eight years. The above trend is also reflected in the average household and family sizes projected for Helotes. Census data projections, for example, show that the average sizes of households and families in the community have remained about the same over the past decade. Using 2000 Census data the ESRI shows that the average household size in Helotes was 2.91 persons. In 2003, that average remained unchanged. When projected out to 2008, the average drops slightly to 2.89 persons per household. This projection is based on a 2.19% annual rate of increase from 2003 to 2008. A similar pattern appears evident when we look at the average family size in Helotes. In 2000, the average family size was 3.13 persons. In 2003, it was estimated to be 3.16 persons. By 2008, it was projected to be 3.15 persons per family. These data are important for several reasons. First, they have obvious tax implications for Helotes. Second, they influence shopping patterns in the community. Third, as the population grows older, and families become smaller there are school enrollment implications. While the population in Helotes is expected to grow, albeit slowly, over the next decade, most families will remain small. At the same time it is expected that the income levels of these families will increase slightly. These trends reflect a relatively stable growth process. Northwest Bexar County, on the other hand, is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade. In examining the demographic patterns and trends in northwest Bexar County and within the Highway 16 corridor the differences become readily apparent. For example, the median age of the population living within Helotes’s 15 mile market area in 2000 was only 31.3 years. In 2003, it was estimated to be 31.9 years. By 2008, it is projected to be 32.9 years. The population residing in this market area is also relatively affluent. Most of those shopping in Helotes come from outside the community. As a result, new income is coming into the community. This also means additional tax revenue. In 2002-2003, for example, the City of Helotes realized nearly $250,000 in sales tax revenues alone. As Helotes continues to build up its commercial sector and adds new assets to draw in more shoppers and tourists the amount of new income coming into the local economy will increase as well. The economic implications for Helotes are clear. 6 Income Distribution The median household income in Helotes as reported in the 2000 Census was $76,951. In comparison, the median for the San Antonio metropolitan area in 2000 was $39,230. The average income for all households in Helotes in 2000 was $90,303 according to ESRI. By 2008, it is projected to be $113,240. The per capita income ratio for Helotes, based on the 2000 Census, was $29,534. In contrast, the per capita income figure for the San Antonio metropolitan area in 2000 was $18,142. Only 2.0% of all families in Helotes were receiving annual incomes at or below the poverty level. Disposable income is another key variable in gauging the prospects for sustained economic growth in any community. It also underscores the ability of local residents and households to purchase the goods and services needed to maintain their standard of living. According to the 2000 Census there were 1,429 households in Helotes. The largest number of these households – 346 or 24.2% - were concentrated in the $100,000 - $149,999 income range. Nearly 750 households or 52.2% had annual incomes of $75,000 or more. The median family income for Helotes in 2000, was $80,090. The area around Helotes has similar income ranges. In 2000, almost 223,000 people lived within 15 miles of Helotes. In 2003, it was estimated that 238,845 people lived in the area. By 2008, this market area is expected to house some 263,435 people in over 100,000 households. A large proportion of the population will be Hispanics and other minorities. It is estimated that Hispanics comprised 47.0% of the population residing within the 15 mile market area around Helotes in 2003. Other minorities comprised slightly over 8.0%. The median household income for all households in this market area in 2003 was estimated to be $52,251. The per capita income ratio in this area was $23,068 in 2003, and the average household income was $60,539. Equally important, the disposable income for those living in this area was $42,605 in 2003, considerably higher than the $36,326 reported for the San Antonio metropolitan area. The estimated aggregate income for households within the 15 mile market area was approximately $5.5 billion in 2003. By 2008, it is expected to exceed $6.8 billion. D. The Economy of Helotes and Northwest Bexar County Helotes is a suburban residential community with commercial businesses located primarily within the Highway 16/Bandera Road corridor. In 2000, some 3,240 residents in Helotes were age16 years and over. Of this number, 2,254 or 69.6% were in the labor force. The majority of these workers – 93.2% - commuted to work outside the community. Only 111 or 5.1% worked at home. Over half – 53.4% - of those working were employed in management, professional and related occupations. Another 9.8% were working in service type occupations, and, slightly over 25.0% were employed in sales and office type jobs. They were mainly working in educational, health and social services (27.1%), finance, insurance, real estate and rental/leasing (13.8%), retail trade (9.6%); and, professional, scientific, management and administrative (9.0%) type industries. The majority were 7 classified as private wage and salary workers (67.4%). Another 24.0% were employed in public sector types jobs. Almost 9.0% were self-employed. Within the 15 mile market area around Helotes nearly 113,000 residents were in the labor force in 2000. Most were employed in six major industry categories – health care and social services (13.7%), retail trade (12.7%), educational services (11.3%), financial services (10.4%), professional services (6.5%), and, food and hospitality services (6.5%). These employment sector percentages generally reflect those found in the northwest quadrant of Bexar County and in the larger San Antonio metropolitan area. These sectors generally pay well, and require a wide range of skills. In 2003, there were some 178 businesses in Helotes. Most were located in the Highway 16 corridor. These businesses included public sector, institutional, nonprofit and private sector enterprises. Altogether they employed about 1,104 workers. The vast majority of these workers were not from Helotes. A general description of these business enterprises is located in Attachment D. The largest employment/business sectors in Helotes in 2003, were: Construction, Retail Services, Eating and Drinking Places, Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade, Automotive Services, and Financial Institutions. A general breakout of these sectors is provided below. Business Sectors – City of Helotes ________________________________________________________________________ Business Employment__________ Sector Number % Number %________ ______________________________________________________________________ Construction 36 20.2% 405 36.7% Miscellaneous Retail 15 8.4 19 1.7 Eating and Drinking Places 10 5.6 139 12.6 Manufacturing 9 5.1 76 6.9 Wholesale Trade 9 5.1 60 5.4 Financial Institutions 8 4.5 32 2.4 Automotive Services 8 4.5 18 1.6 Total 95 749 These sectors include about 53.4% of all the businesses, and employ 67.8% of all those employed in Helotes. A more detailed description of this business sector in Helotes is included in Attachment D. 8 A good indicator of the local economy’s strength is the level of taxable sales revenue a community obtains from business transactions, and goods and services sold within its jurisdiction. In Helotes, sales tax revenues over the past five years have ranged from $170,085 in FY 1999, to $249,123 in FY 2003. Attachment E provides an overall picture of sales tax revenue for the City of Helotes for the period ranging from FY 1983 to FY 2003/2004. It also provides a monthly breakout for these revenues for each tax year. In general, the amount of sales tax revenues received by the City of Helotes since 1983 has increased significantly over the years as its economy has grown. However, there was a noticeable decline in revenues between 1987 and 1991. There was also a slight decline in revenue in 1999 and 2002. Nevertheless, the overall trend has been upward reflecting a high level of economic growth. E. Market Base Dynamics – City of Helotes Businesses and merchants in Helotes serve several markets. One relates to residents and businesses in Helotes. A second one is the primary trade/market area located approximately 5 miles around Helotes. A third market consists of the inner trade/market area located 10 miles around the community. A fourth market area encompasses the area some 15 miles around Helotes. A fifth market relates to visitors and tourists who come to Helotes and either purchase a product or service, or attend an event. There is also a broader market that encompasses the northwest sector of San Antonio/Bexar County. Businesses in Helotes serve all of these markets. The proposed development of the Old Town Helotes District will serve to expand the community’s market base and drawing power. It will also become a major part of Helotes’s overall marketing strategy designed to bring in new businesses, and expand its tourism base. The key to developing a successful downtown business district in Helotes lies in how well businesses in the District serve their markets. There is evidence that local businesses in Helotes are not meeting their potential demand. One indicator of this is the high income leakage occurring in the local economy due to residents shopping elsewhere. In a retail market assessment conducted by ESRI, it was determined that there is a high level of demand potential in several retail sectors that are not being met by local businesses. For example, ESRI estimates a potential demand for retail trade, and food and drink services of $68,671,408.00 in Helotes. However, local merchants have been able to supply only $23,441,891.00 of the demand in terms of their retail sales. Attachment F describes the supply/demand, and leakage/surplus rates for a number of business types and industry groups in Helotes. Also included is a Spending Potential Index (SPI) for consumers in Helotes. This index provides information on the average amount of money spent by local consumers to purchase certain items. The SPI represents the amount spent in the local economy relative to a national average of 100. The data shows that there is a significant demand – supply gap in several retail sectors in the community causing residents to go elsewhere to purchase these items. 9 In developing the Old Town Helotes District and historic core careful attention should be given to determining this market demand for various types of businesses that could be located there. The present District encompasses several very visible businesses that draw on a large market. As the District is developed efforts should be made to target specific types of businesses in order to tap into a wider range of market niches. One of the stated goals of the Economic Development Corporation Board in Helotes is to expand the community’s tourism base. Another is to broaden and expand its sales tax revenue sources to finance local government services and improvements. Equally important it also seeks to establish the District as a destination point for consumers looking for a certain kind of ambience. F. Conclusion In this chapter we briefly looked at the historical legacy of Helotes and examined some of its demographic characteristics. We also discussed its economy and described its market base. In putting together a strategy to develop the Old Town Helotes District several important factors need to be taken into account. First, efforts must be made to improve the overall design and ambience of the District while preserving its charm to make it more attractive for residents, shoppers and visitors alike. Second, a careful assessment of its infrastructure needs must be conducted to ensure its long-term development. Third, a more detailed economic base study should be conducted in order to measure the economic impacts of transforming the District. There are essentially three types of economic impacts – direct, indirect and induced. A direct impact occurs when a purchase of a good or service is made by a consumer. Indirect impacts come about as a result of that purchase. These are sometimes called secondary effects. This is where the multiplier effect comes into play as well. An indirect impact usually results from salaries and wages paid to employees by directly and indirectly impacted businesses and industries in the community. These employees, in turn, then spend their income to purchase other goods and services. As this income is spent it generates additional income as it circulates through the local economy. Sales tax revenues derived from the sale of goods and services within the community is another induced effect. Ideally, we want consumers and employees to spend most of their income locally. We also want outside consumers and visitors to spend their money in the local economy. These expenditures, in turn, create additional cycles of direct and indirect impact. The sum of these effects equates to the total economic impact on the community. The goal is to maximize the economic impact of a developed Old Town Helotes District on the community as a whole. Another goal is to generate additional sales tax revenue for the community. These revenues can then be used to help maintain and improve the District and the larger community. End Notes – Chapter 1 1. Michael R. Causey, Historical Overview of Helotes, Palo Alto College, San Antonio,Texas. Small Town History Project (1998), p2. 2. Ibid. See also 2000 Census. 10 3. See Attachment A “Profile of General Demographic Characteristic - City of Helotes Texas”, 2000 Census. 4. SBDC National Information Clearinghouse, IED/UTSA. Helotes Area Demographic Profiles. ( See Attachment B) 5. Ibid 11 Chapter 2 Developing the Old Town Helotes District A. Introduction The general boundaries of the Old Town Helotes District are described in Figure 2.1. The district is bounded by Highway 16 on the east, and Helotes Creek on the west. The southern boundary is defined by the Northside Helotes Elementary School located between Riggs Road and Old Bandera Road. The northern boundary of the district is defined by the El Chaparral Restaurant. The historic core is located along Old Bandera Road. This area includes a number of businesses including Floore’s Country Store, the Hickory Hut of Helotes, Elf Hardware, and the Old Helotes Consignment Shop. Also located in this area are two churches, professional offices, shops, and several residences. The district encompasses several land uses including residential, commercial, governmental, and warehouse/industrial. There are also a number of vacant and underdeveloped land parcels in the district. The Old Town Helotes District has a number of active businesses. However, the main commercial District in Helotes is located along Bandera Road/Highway 16. That District has a larger traffic flow than the historic core, and is certainly more visible. There are several additional commercial strips within the community. These are mainly located along Riggs Road, Galm Road, and on the eastern side of Bandera Road/Highway 16. The City of Helotes is also located within the rapidly expanding commercial/retail area defined as Northwest San Antonio. The Bandera Road/Highway 16 corridor is developing into one of the fastest growing commercial strip centers in the city. To the south of Helotes is Loop 1604 and Loop 410 where Ingram Park and several other large shopping malls are located. Loop 1604 is also expanding rapidly. To the east of Helotes on Loop 1604 is the main campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the Fiesta Texas theme park. Directly north of the campus a new mega shopping center is being constructed. This center – La Cantera – will be a major commercial/retail operation serving the entire northwest and the larger San Antonio metropolitan area. To the west of Helotes along Loop 1604 are several additional commercial/retail hubs and shopping centers. Also located in the area is Northwest Vista Community College. This dynamic growth area serves as a backdrop to the development of the Old Town Helotes District. B. Development Strategy – Old Town Helotes District Communities often overlook their strengths, opportunities and assets as they seek to rebuild, revitalize and/or redevelop their downtown Districts. These strengths and opportunities must also be carefully evaluated to ensure that they can be integrated into the rebuilding/redevelopment process. Equally important are the communities’ existing assets. These assets can include institutions like schools, churches, successful businesses and community organizations. They can also be strategic in nature. For example, the city is strategically located relative to other high growth areas in the northwest sector. It is also accessible to a very large, relatively affluent population living around it. In addition, Helotes, especially Old Town Helotes, has a name that is widely recognized. This can be a tremendous asset in marketing the community. 12 In developing a revitalization/redevelopment strategy for any community it is useful to get the views and ideas of those living there in order to get a sense of its needs, concerns and perceived problems. To do this, the Research Team and the Economic Development Corporation convened two forums to solicit input from local residents on a wide range of issues relating to Helotes in general, and the Old Town Helotes District, Altogether some 35 residents and business owners participated in the two forums. They were asked to assemble into working groups to formulate and present their views on things that were working well in the community. They were also asked to share their ideas and thoughts on things that needed improvement in Helotes. Finally, they were asked to give their ideas on the future of Helotes. Their responses to these questions are summarized in Attachment G. While the focus was on the community as a whole, much of the discussion centered on the Old Town Helotes District. Several of the groups noted, for example, that while the District has great potential as a commercial/retail/tourist/ entertainment area, it also has a number of major problems. Some of the problems cited were a lack of key infrastructure elements such as water and sewer lines, a poorly developed streetscape, few attractions or stores to draw in outside shoppers and visitors, and inadequate parking areas. They also pointed out that buildings in the District have little design continuity or compatibility. In addition, there is no signage that would indicate to anyone that they are in the District. The only indication that it is an historical area is the presence of an historical marker near the Gugger Home on Old Bandera Road. Several participants noted that pedestrian access from surrounding residential areas is poor. Because there are no sidewalks or other amenities within the District there is very little pedestrian traffic or activity even during the daytime. Following the forums the Research Team conducted a photo survey of the District to record its various streetscapes, architectural details, and environments, and to get a sense of its overall design and layout. These photographs are included in Attachment H. The Research Team also did a general survey of the buildings and land uses in the District as part of its study. There are currently 29 non-residential and nine residential structures in place in this District. They range in size from very small to quite large. Several buildings appear to be vacant or otherwise not in use. Building conditions range from very good to poor. There are a number of open areas and vacant lots in the District along Old Bandera Road and Riggs Road. In addition, there are a number of active businesses in the District. There are also two churches, an elementary school, and four restaurants in the area. The age of the buildings and residences vary as well. Several structures were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Gugger House is listed as an historical building. It currently houses the Helotes Bicycle Shop. The Gugger Store located nearby is also listed as an historical building. It now houses the Hickory Hut Barbeque restaurant. Newer structures date back to the 1960’s and 1970’s. Table 2.1 provides a listing of tenant types and businesses currently operating in the District. Attachment I provides a general historical overview of Helotes and several buildings in the Old Town Helotes District. 14 Table 2.1 Tenant Types Old Town Helotes District Tenant Types Number % of Total Antique Shops 1 3.5% Old Helotes Consignment Shop Automobile Repair 1 3.5% Mander Automotive Churches 2 6.9% First Baptist Church Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church Construction 4 13.8% Empire Steel Young Brothers Fire Protection Triple A Signs Westar Land & Survey Company Restaurants/Cafe 4 13.8% El Chapparral Mexican Restaurant Floores Country Store Helotes Country Club Hickory Hut Barbeque Schools/Education 2 6.9% Helotes Elementary School YMCA – Prime Time After School Health Services 1 3.5% Isis Health and Wellness Center Insurance Carriers & Agents 2 6.9% Farmers Insurance Tom McCabe Insurance Real Estate 1 3.5% Doris Young Reality Services 11 37.7% Edge of the Hills Gallery Elf Hardware Juntiques Collectables Nail Expressions The Polished Look Helotes Bicycle Shop National Underwriting Services Helotes House of Neighborly Services Helotes Echo Newspaper Simply Yours – Gifts and more Wild Game Cold Storage Total 29 100% 15 One of the concerns raised by participants in the forums, and through several interviews is that the District is largely “invisible”. Although Floores Country Store is widely known, and is a major draw for visitors and tourists alike, most of the activity centered around that business is concentrated into a relatively small part of the District, and only for a limited time. Another concern voiced by several of those interviewed is that the area lacks an anchor business that could attract other businesses. This is compounded by the fact that Old Town Helotes is isolated from the Highway 16 commercial corridor. These concerns were underscored by several other observations made by forum participants and those interviewed. For example, they pointed out that the District has few streetlights, no sidewalks, poor signage, and no discernable downtown focus. Past studies done for the City of Helotes substantiate the above observations and insights. In terms of Old Town Helotes these studies found the need for several projects. These were: 1. Enhance water, sewer and infrastructure development in the District. 2. Create a Helotes Old Town Commission to develop plans for marketing and promoting the District. 3. Develop the historic core. Several other initiatives were also proposed by these studies. They included: 1. Install an antique lighting system in the Old Town District. 2. Build sidewalks and other amenities to attract more pedestrians to Old Town. 3. Initiate a general clean up of the District. 4. Provide incentives to attract new businesses to the District. 5. Improve the Districts natural environment and streetscape. 6. Install themed signage throughout the District. This study reiterates the need for these kinds of initiatives. 16 These ideas and proposals taken together form the basis for an overall strategy to redevelop and revitalize the Old Town Helotes District. However, in developing such a strategy several important principles should be considered. First, in order to ensure the successful implementation of any redevelopment/revitalization effort in Old Town Helotes, emphasis should be placed on involving key stakeholders in the community. Second, to the extent possible, the redevelopment/revitalization process should build on assets that already exist in the District. Third, the community must address the process from a long-term perspective. In other words, whatever strategy that is put in place, the redevelopment and revitalization process will take several years to accomplish. Moreover, this process will have to be sustained over a much longer time period. These principles also provide the foundation for a more detailed development strategy for the District. Based on discussions with former participants, members of the Economic Development Corporation, experts on redevelopment/revitalization strategies and others several specific action items were recommended. First, the revitalization/redevelopment strategy for the District must be comprehensive and long-term in its focus. Second, that strategy must begin by using the Districts assets. These assets include its strategic location, the potential branding image that Helotes generates, the historical flavor of Old Helotes, the Hill Country atmosphere that permeates the community, and the small town feeling that it generates. These assets can also serve as the basic building blocks for creating a special place that could attract visitors and tourists to the District. Third, whatever strategy that is ultimately decided on, that strategy should have a strong action component. It should also have the full backing of all of the key stakeholders in the community. Fourth, in order to successfully carry out the revitalization/redevelopment effort some kind of independent implementation group or task force should be formed. This group should have the capacity and the mandate to undertake the effort on a long-term basis. Fifth, it will be important to develop a master plan to guide the development of the District. At a minimum this plan should address the District’s infrastructure needs and requirements, define its land uses, examine ways to improve its appearance and overall design, and improve its accessibility. This plan should also focus on an underlying theme or concept that the District can grow from. Sixth, the economic implications of a revitalized/redeveloped Old Town Helotes District should also be taken into account. If done well the District can become a major economic generator for Helotes. It could also become a focal point for the civic and cultural life. 17 If the revitalization/redevelopment effort is to succeed a great deal of collaboration and cooperation will also need to occur within the community. It will also require a great deal of coordination to carry out this effort. For example, coordinated efforts to develop the Districts physical environment will have to be undertaken to make it more attractive and convenient for residents, shoppers, visitors and businesses. Also, efforts should focus on how the District will be marketed and promoted. If the District is to be centered around a theme then it will be important to attract certain kinds of businesses to locate there. This may require some kind of business targeting strategy. To carry out this development effort it will be necessary to raise additional financial resources. While these and other aspects of an overall strategy will be addressed in greater detail in the following chapter, it is important to keep in mind just how complex this undertaking will be. That is why an independent implementation group or task force is being recommended to carry it out. Equally important is the need to create a special overlay management District for Old Town Helotes so that the strategies, tactics and action plans can be implemented in a more efficient and effective manner. This becomes especially useful if high value projects are constructed in the District. The management district provides a mechanism to coordinate development. It should be emphasized that this kind of approach need not be intrusive or controlling for those living and working in the area. It should also have little effect on land values or the appraised value of homes and businesses already in the District. Over the long-term, the focal point of this whole project should center on the Districts overall economic viability. This will be discussed again in the next chapter. C. Development Scenario for Old Helotes. In August 2004, a work session was convened by the EDC Board with members of the Research Team to discuss the results of its research to that date. That meeting also led to several action steps and decisions for redeveloping the District. These included the following action steps: a. The construction of water and sewer lines in Old Helotes will be given a high priority. b. As part of the streetscape in Old Helotes emphasis will be placed on pedestrian friendly walkways, lighting, and benches. c. More attention will be given to the provision of parking and restrooms in the District. d. The geographic boundaries of Old Town Helotes will be expanded to include the Helotes Elementary School and the Catholic Church on Riggs Road, and continuing to the northeast terminus of Riggs Road at Old Bandera Road, including all of Old Bandera Road from the southwest terminus at Hwy 16, including the El Chaparral Restaurant. The creek will serve as the northwest boundary line and Hwy 16 will border the southeast side. e. A B3 overlay District will be recommended for the above area. The District will be called the “Old Town Helotes Business District.” f A map will be drawn up clearly depicting the boundaries of the “Old Town Helotes Business District” and the properties encompassed therein. 18 g. An inventory of the properties, buildings and businesses in the “Old Town Helotes Business District” documenting the street address, property owner, business name and type will be developed. This inventory will also include photographs of existing businesses. h. Steps will be taken to limit the schedule of uses permitted in the “Old Town Helotes Business District.” i. A brand, theme and marketing strategy for the District will be developed. j. A master plan for the District will be developed. k. A separate website for Old Town Helotes will be developed and linked to the city’s website. At its regular meeting in August 2004, the Economic Development Corporation Board continued to discuss and refine the Research Team’s planning results, and formulated several additional action steps. The board also refined its focus and outlined several supporting goals. These are listed below: Vision. Develop Old Town Helotes as a business district that supports the arts, crafts, entertainment, restaurants and specialty shops. Improve the economic viability of Old Town Helotes and attract new businesses. Enhance the rural image of Old Town Helotes and improve its visual quality. Maintain the flavor of Old Town Helotes and create a strong and inviting sense of place. Supporting Goals 1. Create the “Old Town Helotes Business District”. a. - Refine the District’s boundaries. b. - Create a B-3 zoning overlay for the new District. 2. Revise the schedule of uses for the District. a. - Establish a refined list of business types and uses that will be targeted for the new B-3 overlay District. 3. Develop an overall design concept for the “Old Town Helotes Business District” This design concept, at a minimum, will address: a. - Parking requirements. b. - Right-of-way requirements. c. - Streetscape design elements. d. - Walkways. e. - Accessibility elements. 19 4. Develop a master plan for the District. This plan should emphasize: a. - The development of a strong sense of place. b. - The visual quality of the District. c. - The development of pedestrian friendly public spaces within the District. d. - The development of an adequate infrastructure base to support the District’s long-term growth. 5. Make appropriate ordinance changes as they pertain to the Old Town Helotes Business District. These changes should, at a minimum, address the following: a. - The development of signage in the District. b. - Landscape design in the District. c. - Lighting requirements. d. - Design guidelines. 6. Develop a marketing strategy for the “Old Town Helotes Business District.” This strategy should address the following: a. - The development of promotional material, marketing themes and slogans. b. - Signage. c. - Advertising strategies. 7. Develop and implement a plan to target the recruitment and development of new businesses, and enhance the stabilization/expansion of existing businesses in the District. The strategic focus and supporting goals outlined above provide the basis for a development strategy for the Old Town Helotes District. The next step is to put in place a mechanism to implement this proposed strategy, and effect the necessary ordinance changes to move forward with the task of redeveloping and revitalizing the District. D. Conclusion Three fundamental goals underlay the proposed redevelopment/revitalization strategy proposed for the Old Town Helotes District. First, the City of Helotes and the Helotes Economic Development Corporation want to maintain and improve the originality of the Old Town Helotes District as a business district. Second, both the city and the corporation want to improve the Districts ability to support additional businesses that are focused on the arts, crafts, entertainment and specialty items to expand its attractiveness as a destination for shoppers, visitors and tourists. Third, the City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation also seek to improve the economic viability of the District, enhance its revenue base, improve its image, and create a strong and inviting sense of place. The strategies and supporting goals addressed earlier provide the means for achieving these ends. They also 20 provide the basis for transforming the District into a major destination point. The specific elements discussed in the context of these goals and strategies provide a roadmap for the community to move forward with the process. In order to ensure their implementation over the long-term, the appointment of an implementation group or task force comprised of local civic, business and community leaders should be considered. This entity should also have a degree of independence and a capacity to carry out its job. Oversight, of course, should continue to fall under the jurisdiction of the Helotes City Council, and the Helotes Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors. Whatever implementation strategy is ultimately decided on, the emphasis must continue to center on the long-term viability of this District. End Notes – Chapter 2 1. Both forums were convened in Floores Country Store. The first forum was convened on March 23, 2004, and the second one was held on April 14, 2004. See Attachment G for a summary of the discussions that took place. 2. This was a windshield survey of buildings and land uses in the District. 3. Jan Maynulianos and Kim Turner, City of Helotes: Operational Assessment. Holland and Davis, Inc. November 8, 2001; and, Dr. Richard Tangum and Dr. Geoffrey Blaney, A Concept Plan for Old Helotes. University of Texas at San Antonio, School of Architecture, August 1990. 4. Economic Development Corporation Board Meeting, City of Helotes, August 4, 2004. Minutes of Meeting. 5. Ibid. 6. Economic Development Corporation Board. Minutes and Report to Council – EDCB 8-18-2004. August 18, 2004. 21 Chapter 3 The Economic/Market Base for Old Town Helotes A. Introduction. The success of the Old Town Helotes District will ultimately depend on its market base. In Chapter 1 we briefly discussed its primary and secondary trade/market areas, and how local businesses serve these markets. We also talked about other potential market niches that might be tapped into as part of an overall redevelopment/revitalization strategy for the District. In addition, we outlined some of the dynamics underlying economic impact, and the important role that local spending plays in sustaining the economy of Helotes. Equally important is the role “new” money plays in expanding the local economy. This chapter will continue that discussion. First, we will examine the market base for the District in greater detail. Second, we will look at the economic implications of that market on the local economy. B. The Market Base for Old Helotes Several very important demographics underscore Helotes’ current trade/market area. These are listed below: In 2003, 76,624 people, in 25,748 households (including 20,418 family households) resided within its primary and secondary trade/market areas. These households had a median household income of $62,824 in 2003. The average household income in this area was $69,496, and its median disposable income was $49, 660 in 2003. The median age of the population in this trade/market area was 31.9 years in 2003. In comparison the median age for the San Antonio metropolitan area was around 32.6 years. The aggregate income for the trade/market area around Helotes in 2003 was approximately $1.8 billion. By 2008, it is projected to be around $2.2 billion. In 2003, about 29.3% of all households in the immediate trade/market area consisted of two persons. The next largest household group was the four person household. This group comprised 21.2% of all households in the area. The largest family type in this trade /market area was a married couple family with children in 2003. This type comprised 38.9% of all households with children in this area. In contrast, only 27.4% of all families/households in the San Antonio metropolitan area were comprised of a married couple with children. In 2003, total consumer expenditure within the immediate trade/market area of Helotes was nearly $54.0 million. About $23.0 million was for retail goods. 23 These demographics clearly show that Helotes, and Old Town Helotes have a sufficient population /market base and wealth to support current and new businesses in the area. It also shows that the Old Town Helotes District, if transformed into a dynamic art and entertainment/cultural/retail District, would be able to tap into a very affluent market base close by. More importantly, it would also be able to tap into a much broader market that encompasses an area larger than San Antonio. Current data, however, also suggest that many local residents in Helotes are shopping elsewhere for certain goods and services. This means that there is some income leakage occurring. However, because businesses in the Highway 16 commercial corridor, and some businesses in the District are drawing on a larger market, the leakage is being offset by new money coming in. This finding is substantiated, in part, by increases in the city’s sale tax revenue over the last five years. A current profile of the retail market in Helotes is shown in Attachments C and F. The Retail Market Place Profile in Attachment F is especially relevant. That profile describes the present retail market base in the City of Helotes, and its supply/demand characteristics. It also describes the level of income leakage taking place in the local economy. The supply column estimates the amount of sales made to consumers by businesses in Helotes in 2003. The demand column, on the other hand, represents the expected amount that consumers would spend at retail businesses in Helotes to purchase goods and services. The Leakage/Supply column represents a measure of consumer demand relative to supply in the local economy. At 100 the demand for a particular good or service is not being met locally. If the demand factor is greater than the supply factor local residents are going outside the community to purchase certain goods and services. This represents a leakage factor. As noted earlier this factor also has a bearing on sales tax revenues for the community. Based on the information provided in this profile, total retail trade and food and drink sales in Helotes in 2003 was around $23.4 million. However, there is a demand potential of about $68.7 million for both sectors combined. If we look at total food and drink revenues only, the community recorded about $4.5 million in sales in 2003. At the same time there was a demand potential of nearly $10.8 million in this sector in Helotes. The current level of expenditures for retail goods and services is also described in Attachment F for the City of Helotes. A Spending Potential Index (SPI) for each retail sector in Helotes is included. The SPI is household based and represents the amount spent for a product or service in Helotes relative to a national average of 100. This information is interpreted as follows using the Apparel and Services group as an example. In 2003, it was estimated that each household in Helotes spent on the average of $4,629.84 for apparel products and services. These products and services are further broken down into men’s, women’s, children’s, footwear, and jewelry categories. The average amount spent on each category was then estimated. The total amount of money spent by households in Helotes for apparel goods and related items in 2003 was about $7.4 million in the local economy and elsewhere. In almost every case households did not meet national SPI of 100 in terms of the average amount spent in Helotes. There are several reasons for this. One is that most residents are buying these items outside of the local market. Another is that the current 24 suppliers of these items are not sufficient to meet local demand. These findings reflect the total retail base in Helotes, including that found in Old Town Helotes. It also means that there are markets that are not being fully served by local area merchants. In other words, there is room for growth in this and other sectors of the local economy for the foreseeable future. It also opens up additional possibilities for the District as it seeks to expand its commercial base. The implications for the city‘s taxable sales revenue is equally significant. Since 2000, sales tax revenues have generally increased from about $198,939 to $249,123 in 2002-2003. This upward trend actually has its origin back to 1990. This indicates that business growth in Helotes is occurring. It also indicates that businesses in the community are holding their own. In all likelihood this trend will continue at least for the foreseeable future. From a broader perspective, however, it also means that the potential for business growth in Helotes, and especially in Old Town Helotes is very good. The question today is not so much as to how many businesses will take root in Helotes, but what kinds of businesses will locate there. In other words, Helotes will likely see more business growth in the years ahead. This growth also means that the community can begin to target certain businesses that will meet its particular needs and requirements. This becomes especially relevant for Old Town Helotes where attempts to target certain types of businesses will be made to enhance the District and make it a special place to visit, shop and be entertained. C. Market Trends. Several current trends in retailing, retail development, small business development, and downtown redevelopment strategies can have a significant impact on the revitalization/redevelopment of the Old Town Helotes District. One such trend is the rediscovery of older towns and shopping Districts, and their transformation into exciting shopping and entertainment centers. Increasingly, older rural communities are finding it difficult to compete with regional malls, power centers, and large open-air shopping centers. As a result, they are discovering their historical roots and are trying to refocus their downtown business Districts or commercial centers into attractive shopping areas built around a certain theme or ambience to attract shoppers and tourists. Another trend in the U.S. is the emphasis being placed on providing diverse shopping experiences. This trend is reflected in the development of shopping centers and downtown districts that incorporate a wide variety of activities, stores and entertainment venues. The design of the shopping environment, and the kinds of amenities provided to shoppers have also been important considerations. The challenge for communities trying to revitalize or redevelop their downtown District is to come up with the right mix of stores as well as convenience elements and supporting uses that can generate sufficient traffic, and thereby bring in customers to the stores in the District. These supporting uses can be libraries, post offices, theaters, museums, and compatible businesses such as galleries, specialty shops and restaurants/coffee houses. Not only do they attract customers they also add vitality to the environment. 25 A third major trend in the U.S. has to do with the way we shop. For example, more emphasis is being placed on value retailing and niche marketing. Traditional shopping venues like malls are becoming less important. Instead, specialized shopping Districts are becoming the standard. Many of these Districts also have a high level of amenities and design. They are often centered around thematic elements. There are hundreds of examples of older communities transforming their downtown commercial Districts into vibrant shopping and entertainment centers. With regards to Old Town Helotes extensive discussions have been underway to restructure the District and emphasize its historic core. The goal is to create a diverse and exciting environment that focuses on entertainment, the arts and culture, and specialty shops designed to attract shoppers, visitors and tourists. Discussions have also centered on the use of walkways, extensive landscaping, and special lighting to make the District more attractive. Also, emphasis is being placed on stores that serve niche or specialized markets. Equally important is the need to brand the District to make it a destination point for the potentially huge market around it. D. Lifestyle Clusters – Marketing the District Communities more often than not are made up of people with difference preferences, tastes and lifestyles. However, people with similar tastes, preferences, incomes and education characteristics do tend to locate in similar neighborhoods. To take advantage of this propensity to live with others who share similar lifestyles a number of geo-demographic marketing systems have been devised to classify areas and neighborhoods by general lifestyle characteristics to help businesses and communities develop marketing strategies, and to locate or target certain types of retail businesses. A combination of data sources are used to help geo-demographers and researchers develop lifestyle categories. It is important to understand, however, that any given area may contain more than one lifestyle cluster based on the characteristics of the households in that area. In most cases one type of lifestyle tends to be more pronounced than others in any given area. This study used the Experian MOSAIC™ Lifestyle Grouping System with a GIS coded base to define the clusters in Helotes and surrounding trade/market areas. A description of the lifestyle clusters in Helotes and its market/trade areas is included in Attachment B. This information is especially useful for redeveloping and revitalizing the Old Town Helotes District for several reasons. First, it can help Helotes and its Economic Development Corporation target specific business types as part of a broader business targeting and acquisition strategy for the District. Second, businesses already in the District can use this information to help them match their inventories with the shopping preferences and characteristics of the population residing in their market area. Third, the City of Helotes can use it to develop strategies to market the District and to attract tourists and other visitors to shop and spend money in the area. If used correctly the knowledge of lifestyle clusters can also be an extremely important tool for putting together a marketing strategy for the District. 26 Within Helotes’s three market/trade areas four major lifestyle clusters dominate. The largest cluster is classified as Second City Leaders. The second largest cluster is Affluent Suburbia . The other two are Upscale City Singles, and Blue Collar Winners. These four clusters include over 90% of the population in Helotes and its surrounding market/trade areas. Each is described in detail below: Second City Leaders Within the primary and secondary market/trade areas around Helotes over 50% of the population is included in this cluster. In its outer market/trade area this cluster type is somewhat smaller. However, nearly one-third of the area’s population is still classified as Second City Leaders. Those in this cluster usually live in suburbs and on the outskirts of metropolitan centers. It makes up slightly over 10% of all households in the U. S. These areas tend to house predominantly white, middle-aged, married couples with children. They usually live in owned, single-family homes. This population is also well educated with above average incomes. Many are employed in professional, managerial and other white-collar occupations. Affluent Suburbia. Slightly over 32% of the population residing within the primary market area of Helotes is classified as Affluent Suburbia. About 26% of the population in the secondary trade/market area is classified as such. Only about 12% of the population in its outer market area is in this cluster. This cluster represents the most affluent 10% of the U.S. population. It is predominantly middle aged, very well educated, and mainly employed in professional and managerial occupations. This cluster also tends to be mainly white or Asian, and lives in comfortable homes located on the fringes of metropolitan areas. Travel, busy social lives, and community involvement are the defining lifestyles of this group. Upscale City Singles. The third most dominant lifestyle cluster – Upscale City Singles – comprises about 10% of the population in the primary and secondary trade/market areas in Helotes. However, in the outer trade/market area of Helotes this cluster makes up nearly 32% of the population. In contrast, only about 17% of the total population in the metropolitan area is in this cluster. As the name implies, Upscale City Singles are well off, usually childless, apartment dwellers living in a metropolitan setting. They make up almost 13% of all U.S. households. They also tend to be well educated, and are employed in well-paid professional and white collar jobs. This cluster also has sufficient disposable income to travel extensively and enjoy very active social and recreational lives. Blue Collar Winners. About 8% of the population in the primary and secondary trade/market areas in Helotes, and approximately 11% of the population in its outer market area is 27 classified as Blue Collar Winners. This group represents successful blue collar workers and technicians. They comprise about 10% of all U.S. households. Members of this cluster usually earn substantial middleclass incomes, and often own their homes. They have at least a high school education and perhaps some college. Members of this cluster are mainly middle-aged, married with children, own two vehicles, and enjoy outdoor activities. In order to capitalize on its various lifestyle clusters Helotes may want to consider the possibility of developing a targeted business recruitment strategy designed to pinpoint and recruit specific kinds of retail operations and other business types as part of a broader effort to redevelop and revitalize the District. This approach will not only maximize its opportunities, but also strengthen existing small business sector in the District. E. Economic Development Implications. The economic development aspects associated with the redevelopment of the Old Town Helotes District on the overall economy of Helotes are significant. For example, when we talk about redeveloping and revitalizing the District we are also talking about bringing in new businesses, strengthening businesses already in the District, increasing sales tax revenues, and creating new job opportunities. Business development in general, and new retail development in particular enhances economic growth prospects within a community by increasing the amount of new money circulating through the local economy. This occurs when visitors and tourists from outside the community purchase local goods and services. New retail establishments also encourage local residents to buy locally what they may have been buying outside the community. This reduces income leakage, and keeps more income in the community. It also creates more jobs and brings in other kinds of businesses. The dynamics generated by a viable District will create additional benefits as well. These include more local investment, and an enhanced quality of life for residents in Helotes. In a sense, the revitalization and redevelopment of the Old Town Helotes District will recreate a downtown business district Helotes once had, but lost when commercial development took root along Highway 16. Local economies, in general, have four major components. These include the purchase of local goods and services by individuals in the community (consumption); purchases of local goods and services by other businesses in the community (investment); purchases of local goods and services by the public sector in the community; and, net purchases of goods and services by consumers, businesses and governments outside the community. The last component is the key to sustaining local development and economic growth, especially in small communities. When visitors and tourists purchase goods and services in Helotes they also create new income streams in the community. It also contributes to new sales tax revenues, business investment and new jobs. In addition it improves the profit margins of businesses already in the community. 28 It is important to emphasize that activities such as retail, entertainment and professional services do not automatically bring in new customers or income to the community. People usually need a reason to purchase goods and services from a particular area, attend a theater performance, or participate in a special activity of some kind. This becomes more obvious when we have competing areas that provide similar services, goods and activities. Attracting visitors and tourists to the Old Town Helotes District will be just as important as appearance. This is where marketing the District becomes extremely important. It will also help to bring in several unique or specialized retail businesses, professional services, and facilities that will attract “outsiders” such as tourists who will spend money in the District. For example, if Helotes redevelops its historic core, improves the Districts overall environment, brings in new businesses that focus on niche markets, and creates an attraction such as a museum devoted to country and western music, its drawing power will increase. These activities will also “brand” the District so that Old Town Helotes becomes associated with a certain kind of persona or image that will help to market it. Many small communities in Texas and elsewhere are, in fact, finding that the arts, cultural and entertainment attractions can be used to spur business development and enhance economic growth. These communities are using “cultural” industries to tap into the vast tourist market. Tourists not only buy tickets for entertainment and art shows, they also eat in local restaurants, shop in local stores, and stay in local hotels. These kinds of businesses can also contribute to the community’s overall quality of life. Communities like Comfort, Boerne, Castroville, New Braunfels, Gruene and Wimberly in Texas have already discovered this and are working hard to capitalize on their local assets and flavor to bring in tourists and visitors. Creating a successful District will also require a broad based strategy that is centered around the community’s existing assets, and what it wants to achieve in Old Town Helotes. An important part of that strategy will be to define its economic niche. Beautifying the District alone will not work. Many communities have spent a great deal of money on improving their downtowns by putting in new benches, trees, lighting and walkways, and still end up having an empty downtown. One reason for this is that local residents and outsiders will not go downtown if there is nothing to bring them there. A successful downtown district usually requires a mix of activities such as retail stores, offices, galleries, restaurants, museums, libraries, coffee houses, bookstores and entertainment facilities. These elements create the kind of relationships that make a downtown viable. They also provide diversity and a range of venues that outsiders can enjoy and spend their money on. The key lies in attracting outside consumers into the District. The market base for the Old Town Helotes District is potentially a huge one. The goal is to effectively tap into that base. 29 F. Conclusion. In this chapter we examined a number of important elements that are vital to the long- term success of Old Town Helotes. For example, we looked at its market base and the demographics underlying it. We also discussed a number of important market trends in retailing, small business development, and downtown redevelopment. In addition we examined several dominant lifestyle clusters within the primary and secondary trade/market areas around Helotes. The economic implications of redeveloping the District were addressed as well. We agreed that if the District is to succeed it will have to be based on the community’s assets and history. As it stands today the Old Town Helotes District does not present an attractive environment to shop, recreate or visit. It has few retail stores, and while it has several businesses that reach out to a very large market area their overall impact is highly localized. Helotes, like many other small communities in Texas, is confronting several major trends. But there are differences as well. For example, while many smaller, rural based communities are losing population, Helotes is growing. It is also an affluent community, and if trends continue the way they have it is likely that it will become more affluent in the future. On the other hand, there is a lack of resources and tax revenues to meet important needs such as water and sewer lines, street repairs and lighting. Local area residents also expect more in terms of the community’s quality of life. Successful small communities, on the other hand, have been able to take advantage of their uniqueness and special assets. They have also been able to take into account changing tastes, preferences, lifestyles and markets, drawing in new income by attracting tourists and visitors, and developing strategies to effectively market themselves. The next chapter will look at these issues more closely. It will also examine development options available to Helotes and the Old Town Helotes District. It will, in addition, discuss a possible strategy to move forward with the redevelopment and revitalization of the District. The goal of that chapter is to put in place a strategic framework to help the City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation make the critical decisions they need to make in order to transform the Old Town Helotes District into an economic asset for the entire community. End Notes - Chapter 3. 1. Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse. Institute for Economic Development UTSA. Helotes Area Demographic and Market Profile. (see Attachment B). 2. Dolores Palma, “Making Downtown Economically Viable Again,” May 2003. Hyatt Palma Consulting Firm, Alexandria, Virginia. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 30 Chapter 4. Development Plan for the Old Town Helotes District. A. Introduction. The purpose of this chapter is to provide the City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation with a strategic framework to help them make decisions and policies required to redevelop and revitalize the Old Town Helotes District. A second purpose is to come up with a concept plan for the District as a first step in carrying out the redevelopment process. This chapter also suggests a roadmap for carrying out this process. In addition, it reinforces the need for a District marketing strategy and a business targeting plan. Finally it outlines several short- term steps the city and the Board of Directors of the Economic Development Corporation can take to move forward with the task of transforming the District. B. Developing a Strategic Framework. Earlier it was noted that one of the first steps that was needed was to define the geographical boundaries of the District, and to conduct a general assessment of what is there today. This was addressed in Chapter 2. It was also suggested that some kind of overlay or management district be put in place to coordinate the development of the District and sustain that process over time. A marketing strategy and the need for a business targeting plan was addressed as well. In addition, it was recommended that some kind of task force or other entity oversee the redevelopment/revitalization process. These strategies provide the foundation for the framework outlined below. That framework is based on an analysis of the data acquired by the Research Team, responses from stakeholders voiced during the community forums, and discussions with local leaders and members of the Economic Development Corporations Board of Directors. The framework is centered on four main areas – organizing the process, enhancing the Districts physical environment, promoting the District, and improving its business focus. Strategic Framework – Organization. It will take several years to carry out the initial redevelopment/revitalization process in the District. As this process moves forward it will also have to be sustained. To spearhead the initial effort the City of Helotes and/or the Helotes Economic Development Corporation should consider the possibility of establishing a task force comprised of local business owners in the District, residents, civic and business leaders in the community. Once the process is well underway steps should be taken to form a non-profit entity to oversee the long-term development of the District. Its purpose would be to maintain, enhance and manage the District, market it, and coordinate events and activities taking place within the District. It would also be responsible for developing the District’s historical core. An alternative to this approach would be for the City of Helotes to have an economic development director to spearhead the redevelopment of the District. The rationale underlying this recommendation is that unless some one or some organization is put in place to provide direction and coordination over the long-term the redevelopment process may become fragmented or worse put aside in the future. 31 Strategic Framework – Enhancing the Physical Environment. Efforts should be undertaken to improve the Districts environment, provide the necessary infrastructure to support its long-term development, and develop an overall concept plan to ensure its design integrity. Not only should the design and appearance of the District be improved by renovating existing buildings and facades, enhancing undeveloped and underdeveloped land parcels, rebuilding its streetscape, and improving its signage steps should be taken to improve the Districts lighting, parking and accessibility. Consideration should also be given to its landscaping and design to provide some kind of architectural/thematic focus and identity to the District. Several goals were outlined by the Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors for the Helotes City Council in August 2004. These were discussed briefly in Chapter 2. Specifically, the board suggested the following goals relative to the physical development of the District. Determine the overall design of the “Old Town Helotes Business District”, focusing on: a. Parking b. Right-of-way c. Streetscape d. Walkways e. Accessibility Develop a master plan for the District to: a. Provide a strong sense of place. b. Enhance its visual quality. c. Provide for pedestrian-friendly public spaces. Make appropriate ordinance changes to improve the Districts: a. Signage b. Landscape c. Lighting d. Design A key component is the development of a master plan for the District. Such a plan could be used to formulate a set of guiding principles for the redevelopment and revitalization of the District and adjacent areas. Another major consideration is providing access to the District. Currently, access to Old Town Helotes is provided through Riggs Road, Scenic Loop Drive and Highway 16 as it connects with Old Bandera Road. These access points are poorly defined with almost no signage provided to alert a driver that he/she is entering or leaving the Old Town Helotes District. Additional steps can be taken to landscape these access 32 points to make the District’s gateways more attractive. The intent is to create a sense of place and reduce the District’s isolation. Another intent is to improve access to local businesses, and eliminate barriers to make the District more user friendly. Strategic Framework – Promoting the District To succeed Old Town Helotes will need to be marketed and promoted extensively to draw in visitors and tourists from surrounding trade/market areas, and the larger metropolitan region. To accomplish this, a marketing strategy should be developed to portray the District as a special place to shop, recreate, live and do business. As part of this promotion/marketing strategy efforts should be made to increase the range of events, activities and shopping experiences in the District. Equally important is the need to establish an image for the District that can be effectively marketed. The goal is to reach out to its potential market base to draw in visitors, shoppers and tourists for its businesses. Strategic Framework – Improving its Business Focus. Making the District more attractive will not automatically bring in more visitors and tourists unless there is a reason for people to come to it. The Economic Development Corporation’s board, realizing this, has given special attention to the idea of developing Old Town Helotes as a business district that supports the arts, crafts, entertainment venues, restaurants and a variety of specialty shops. It also wants to revise the schedule of uses in the District as part of a new B-3 overlay District. In addition, the board is examining the prospects of developing a business plan designed to target and recruit certain types of businesses for the District. These businesses include antique stores, apparel and accessory shops, art galleries, bakery shops, bookstores, carpenters/wood working shops, cafes, candle shops, coffee shops, design studios, music stores and floral shops. The intent is to create a more diverse shopping experience for tourists, visitors and local residents. To ensure a viable District it is also important to make sure that existing businesses and new business startups have the necessary skills, tools and management awareness needed to maintain their operations and increase their profitability. To accomplish this it is recommended that the organization put in place to spearhead the development of the District establish a relationship with support groups like the Small Business Development Center at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) to provide ongoing consultative services to businesses in the District as needed. This framework provides the basis for redeveloping and revitalizing the Old Town Helotes District. It is important to emphasize that each element-organization, enhancing the physical environment, promotion and marketing, and the Districts business makeup-is vital for its success. Without organization it is likely that little will be accomplished. If the District is not promoted and marketed effectively it will continue to languish. If its 33 physical environment and infrastructure is not improved it will not be able to support development or attract visitors and tourists to shop there. If it does not have the right mix of businesses it will remain empty on most days regardless of how it looks. C. Implementation Strategy. The three fundamental goals of any commercial district revitalization/redevelopment effort are to maintain and improve its viability as a shopping area, improve the profit margin of businesses already in the district, and expand its market base. In the case of Helotes, the District is also seen as becoming the civic and cultural hub of the community. The strategies discussed in the previous section provide a strong foundation for transforming the District. This section concentrates on the implementation process. Whatever approach is decided on, however, that approach must be carefully coordinated and monitored to deal with changing conditions that could affect the District in the years ahead. The implementation strategy proposed for redeveloping and revitalizing the Helotes Old Town District center on the following: Establishing an Implementation Organization. Developing a Master Plan for the District. Developing a Marketing/Promotional Strategy for the District. Establishing a Business Targeting Plan. Developing a Strategy for the Historic Core. Each is described in greater detail below: Establishing an Implementation Organization. One of the first steps that should be considered in moving forward with the redevelopment and revitalization of the Old Town Helotes District is to establish a mechanism to organize and sustain the effort over time. Earlier it was suggested that the City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation should create a task force or some other entity to carry out the task of coordinating the District’s transformation. This entity would also be responsible for maintaining and promoting the District. In addition, it could serve as a means for coordinating special events and activities in the District. Developing a Master Plan for the District. Another key step in the transformation of the District is the development of a master plan for its long-term development. This plan would establish a framework for the redevelopment and revitalization of the District. At a minimum this plan should address the District’s land uses, infrastructure needs and requirements, architectural design criteria, landscape needs, streetscape design, parking requirements, restoration and renovation priorities, building design standards, overall layout and long term development requirements and priorities. 34 In addition, it should take into account the District’s accessibility, signage needs, and development areas. Once the master plan is completed development plans can be formulated to address specific projects in the District such as the construction of a museum devoted to country/western music, the development of a theater/hotel facility, the expansion of the District’s retail base, and the enhancement of its streetscape and easements along Old Bandera Road and Riggs Road. Development of a Marketing/Promotional Strategy. The promotional/marketing strategy for the Old Town Helotes District should concentrate on two key areas. First, it should foster an image for the District that can serve as the basis for its marketing strategy. Second, it should capitalize on existing assets already in the District such as Floores Country Store. There are several additional components of that strategy as well. These are listed below: First, every effort should be focused on transforming its image and improving its accessibility. That image should be built around its Western/Texas Hill Country flavor. At the same time accessibility to the District should be given a high priority to reduce its isolation and to make it more visible. Second, the marketing strategy should target its primary, secondary and metropolitan trade/market areas, as well as the Hill Country. Third, emphasis should be centered on creating a diverse shopping experience for visitors, tourists and residents. High priority should be given to developing amenities in the District, and providing a unique shopping/entertainment/cultural environment. Fourth, the marketing strategy should incorporate a broad range of promotional materials and venues including brochures, creation of a website, newsletters, special flyers and media outreach. This effort, to succeed, must be coordinated, focused on specific markets and lifestyles, well managed and sustained. Establishing a Business Targeting Plan for the District. A concerted effort should be undertaken to specifically identify, target and recruit new types of businesses to the District in order to provide a more diverse shopping environment, and create a sense of uniqueness that is found nowhere else but in Old Town Helotes. Earlier a number of business types were identified by the Economic Development Corporation for targeting purposes. A business targeting plan will provide additional information on each type and propose a mechanism to recruit them. Concurrent with this; the City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation should establish a business support/recruitment team to actively promote the District, recruit prospective businesses for the District, and work with existing businesses in the District to protect their interests. 35 Developing a Strategy for the District’s Historic Core. The historic core of the District is largely centered around the Gugger House and adjacent buildings. Additional historical sites are located close by and throughout the area. To capitalize on its history the City of Helotes should establish the boundaries of its historical core area, and identify buildings and other assets within that area. This will set the stage for a development plan and a design concept that could be incorporated into the District’s master plan. The intent is to not only protect the District’s historical assets, but to use them to promote it as well. The proposed implementation strategy will only succeed if it is well coordinated and sustained over time. It will also need the help and support of merchants, business owners and residents in the District and the larger community. Finally, it will also require a carefully thought out financial plan to make it work. The basis of that plan is discussed below: D. Financial Strategy. There are a number of potential funding sources that can be tapped into by the City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation to finance the redevelopment and revitalization of the Old Town Helotes District. In addition, there are several initiatives like the Texas Main Street Program and the Texas Capital Fund (TCF) Downtown Revitalization Program that may be applicable. Many of the grants and loans available through the State of Texas and the Federal Government tend to be very targeted in their applications and requirements. Some require a cash match. A few, however, provide a great deal of flexibility in how their funds can be used. Local investment and resources is another source of funds that can be used to redevelop the District. A brief description of various sources of funds that can be used to finance the District’s redevelopment follows: Federal Programs. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The City of Helotes is eligible to receive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds as a non-entitlement city. These funds can be used for a variety of purposes including infrastructure development and downtown revitalization. The Office of Rural and Community Affairs (ORCA) serves as the lead agency for CDBG funds to non-entitlement cities in Texas. The Alamo Area Council of Governments can also assist the City of Helotes in applying for funds under this program. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA has a number of grant and loan programs that could be used to redevelop and revitalize the District. One is the Business and Industrial Guaranteed Loan Program. This is a combination grant/direct low interest loan program established to improve, develop or finance businesses, and provide working capital and debt refinancing for economic development type projects. Borrowers, however, must exhaust other sources of funds that are available at reasonable rates and terms before 36 applying for this program. In addition, the borrower must have the legal authority to borrow and repay loans; pledge security for loans; have the capacity to construct, operate and maintain the facility or service; and, be able to organize and manage the facility. Another applicable USDA program is its Community Facilities Program. This program provides grants ranging from $750,000 to $10.0 million to fund the construction of various kinds of facilities including infrastructure type projects and downtown redevelopment. However, it does require a local match depending on the project’s economic impact, location and viability. A third applicable program provided by the USDA is its Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG). This grant can be used to foster business development and opportunities in the District. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA has a broad range of guaranteed loan programs that are mainly designed to facilitate small business development. One such program is the SBA’s 504 Loan Program. This program is designed for small businesses looking to startup or expand operations. These loans can be used to purchase real estate, construct buildings and purchase equipment for the business. The SBA often works through Local Certified Development Companies (CDC’s) that offer the program to qualified small businesses. State Programs. Texas Capital Fund (TCF). The TCF is administered through the Texas Department of Agriculture. It provides grants to local governments, to help them develop infrastructure and purchase real estate for manufacturing companies looking to relocate or expand operations in Texas. It also has a Rural Municipal Finance Program (RMFP) that provides grants to rural communities for infrastructure development. The current maximum allocation under this program is $750,000. In 2003/2004, the TCF also initiated a Downtown Revitalization Program for non-Main Street Program communities in Texas. This is a highly competitive program and only a small number of grants are available each year. This program is specifically designed to fund downtowns revitalization/redevelopment projects. Texas Main Street Program. The program was started in 1981, and is affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Texas Main Street Program is one of the most successful downtown revitalization programs in the nation, and has helped more than 130 cities in the state. It is, however, a competitive program and only a few cities are eligible to become Main Street Program participants each year. The community looking to participate in the program must also make a commitment to have a director to oversee the program and provide resources to fund the local program. 37 Office of Rural and Community Affairs (ORCA). The ORCA was set up by the Texas legislature to serve as an advocate for rural areas and communities in the state. It currently serves as the pass through agency for allocating non-entitlement CDBG grants for small cities in Texas. It also provides a planning/capacity building grant of up to $50,000 to small rural communities to help them improve their capacity to do planning and manage their operations more effectively. In 2004, ORCA also initiated a microenterprise and small business loan program to foster business development in rural communities. They also serve as a coordinating entity, and works closely with the TCF and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs in areas relating to affordable housing, community services, infrastructure development and rural health. Foundations. Another potential source of funds that can be used to redevelop and revitalize the Old Town Helotes District are foundations. There are hundreds of foundations in Texas, and thousands throughout the U.S. Many provide support to communities looking to redevelop historic areas in their downtown Districts, build museums, protect special sites and buildings, and develop new initiatives. Almost all foundations require the applicant to have a 501 (c)(3) non-profit designation. Grant ranges and types of projects that are addressed by foundations vary considerably. The City of Helotes and/or the Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors may want to look into the possibility of forming a nonprofit community development corporation to target foundations and other kinds of grants for various projects in the District and throughout the community. Local Sources. Sales Tax Revenues – 4 A/ 4B Sales Tax. The most readily available source of funds for the City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation are sales tax revenues generated by local businesses. Under this program cities in Texas are able to use these funds for economic development purposes, attract new businesses to the community, provide incentives to businesses, purchase land and buildings to foster development, improve infrastructure in commercial and industrial areas, and provide job training. There are several key differences between the 4A and the 4B programs. The section 4A tax is generally considered to be the more restrictive of the two in terms of its applications and authorized types of expenditures. In general, the type of project permitted under section 4A includes the more traditional type of development initiative such as promoting new and expanded business development projects, purchasing land for development, and developing facilities. The 4B tax on the other hand, generally covers expenditures that promote industrial, manufacturing, commercial and /or retail operations. In addition, these tax revenues can fund projects that are typically considered to be community development initiatives. For example, authorized 38 categories under Section 4B include land purchases, the purchase of buildings and/or equipment for sports facilities, the development of park facilities, and the construction of entertainment and tourist related facilities. It is important to point out that 4A tax monies are not intended to fund the general infrastructure needs of a community. However, these monies can be used for special or targeted type activities such as developing the infrastructure for the Old Town Helotes District as long as it is used to foster economic growth. Monies provided under the 4B Section can also be used for targeted infrastructure development, the development of facilities designed to promote job creation in the community, and for the retention and promotion of small businesses. Other Local Options. The City of Helotes also has several other options to raise local funds to redevelop and revitalize the District. These include the use of a hotel occupancy tax, and the provision of loans and grants to promote the development of the District. It can also engage in tax increment financing. This is a tool that local governments can use to publicly finance needed improvements within a particular area. These improvements are usually undertaken to promote the viability of existing businesses and to attract new businesses to the area. The cost of improvements under this tool is repaid by the contribution of future tax revenue by each taxing unit that levies taxes against property in the area. These taxing units, in turn, can choose to dedicate all, a portion of, or none of the revenue that is attributable to the increase in property values due to the improvements made in the reinvestment zone. The additional tax revenue that is received from the affected properties in the zone is referred to as the tax increment. Cities can also issue debt to finance certain kinds of economic development initiatives or infrastructure improvements. The power to issue debt is predicated on its authority to do so under state law. It can also issue certificates of obligation and time warrants which is a type of written promise by a city to pay its obligations in the future. The City of Helotes can also secure bank loans and/or notes if such borrowing is authorized under its charter or some other statutory authority. Finally, it can establish a public improvement district or a management district to foster development and facilitate infrastructure improvements in a particular area. The redevelopment and revitalization of the Old Town Helotes District is an investment in the future of Helotes. As it continues to grow this investment will generate other kinds of investments in the community. It will also increase the city’s sales tax revenue over time. While the above revenue support strategies suggest several possible funding sources to move forward with the development of the District, additional research will be needed to determine their level of applicability. This is especially true for tax increment financing, and the possibility of establishing a public improvement or management overlay district for Old Town Helotes. Each option also has both positive and negative 39 consequences. Therefore, they need to be addressed in the context of specific project requirements. However, options do exist. One of the things the proposed master plan for the District will include is a more detailed description of the costs involved in redeveloping and revitalizing the District, and a listing of options that can be used to finance the development of specific projects in the District. E. Conclusion. The intent of this chapter was to outline a strategic framework for the City of Helotes and its Economic Development Corporation to help them move forward with the task of redeveloping the Old Town Helotes District. This framework was centered on four key areas-organizing the process, enhancing the District’s physical environment, promoting the District, and improving its business focus in order to diversify and expand the shopping experience in the District. Within each, several action items and initiatives were suggested as well. This chapter also suggested an implementation strategy built around several initiatives. This strategy was centered on the idea of setting up an implementation organization to spearhead the redevelopment/revitalization process; developing a master plan for the District to guide its long-term development; putting in place a marketing and promotional strategy to sell the District; establishing a business targeting plan designed to identify the kinds of businesses that could succeed in the District; and, developing a strategy to build up the District’s historic core. In addition, several options were discussed to finance the effort. Many communities in Texas and elsewhere are quickly realizing that traditional economic development strategies that concentrate only on recruiting certain types of businesses or chasing smokestacks is no longer viable. Instead, more and more emphasis is being placed on things like small business development, entrepreneurship, tourism, quality of life factors, cultural development, and creating new recreational and entertainment venues as part of a broader strategy to foster economic and community development. By deciding to invest in Old Town Helotes the City of Helotes has also decided to invest in its future. The strategies suggested in this chapter can provide it with a roadmap to move forward with that task. End Notes – Chapter 4. 1. Office of the Attorney General – State of Texas, Handbook On Economic Development Laws For Texas Cities – 2002, Austin, Texas. Pp 2-31 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid 5. Ibid. 40 Chapter 5 Findings and Recommendations A. Introduction This study shows that the redevelopment/revitalization of the Old Town Helotes District in Helotes is viable, and that it makes sense economically. The area’s demographic and income characteristics also indicate that there is a potentially strong market base to support a wider range of businesses within the District. The same applies to its primary, secondary and metropolitan trade/market areas. These areas have populations with sufficient disposable income and consumption patterns that would support the retail, commercial, cultural and entertainment concept discussed in this study. While the current composition and character of the population in Helotes is beginning to change, the community, as a whole, has been relatively stable. The present demographic makeup of the inner and surrounding trade areas is very favorable for a wide range of retail and service type businesses in the community. The Old Town Helotes District will be able to capitalize on these demographic, market and consumption patterns/trends by providing a unique environment built around a historical country western flavor. Residents and visitors alike also generally perceive the community and its historical character in a positive way. In addition, the City of Helotes provides a “small town” atmosphere with all of the benefits of a surrounding metropolitan community. A redeveloped historic core centered on the Old Town Helotes District can reinforce this perception. The concept for Old Town Helotes proposed in this study, and reinforced by additional community input is designed to give it a distinct flavor, while building a focal point for the community it now lacks. The ideas presented in this study are also designed to make the District a destination point for residents and visitors alike. In addition, it provides a strong “brand” identification for the community. This brand can be marketed as well. Many civic and business leaders as well as residents in Helotes believe that it’s economic future should be more focused on tourism development, and centered on providing a unique, thematic environment that builds on the character and lifestyles of those living there. The concept underlying the proposed District is based on these ideas. Additional research, however, is needed to better define the impact of certain types of businesses on the local economy. Also, steps should be taken to build on this study, and develop a master plan for the long-term development of the District. That plan should also include provisions for additional infrastructure development. Finally, the City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation should not overlook opportunities for additional development in the District. There are a number of important assets already in the District that can contribute to its long-term viability. Both the city and the corporation can also take steps to tap into the lucrative tourism market. The proposed District could be a potentially strong attraction for tourists and visitors. In fact, many communities in Texas have taken this route with a great deal of success. 41 B. Findings Based on its research and analyses, the Center for Economic Development presents the following findings: Finding 1. The population and demographic characteristics of Helotes and its primary and secondary trade/market areas is sufficient to support the development of the Old Town Helotes District as a commercial/retail/ entertainment center. Finding 2. The median household income in Helotes, as reported in the 2000 Census, was $76,951. In comparison, the median for the San Antonio metropolitan area in 2000 was $39,230. The average income for all households in Helotes in 2000 was $90,303. By 2008, it is projected to be $113,240. Only about 2.0% of all families in Helotes were receiving incomes at or below the poverty level. Finding 3. In 2000, almost 223,000 people lived within a 15 mile radius of Helotes. In 2003, it was estimated that 238,845 people lived in the area. By 2008, it is expected that the area will house some 263,435 people in over 100,000 households. The disposable income for those living in the area was $42,605. in 2003 The estimated aggregate income for all households within this market area was approximately $5.5 billion in 2003. By 2008, it is expected to exceed $6.8 billion. Finding 4. In 2003, there were about 178 businesses in Helotes. Most were located in the Bandera Road/Highway 16 Corridor. These businesses employed about 1,104 workers. Finding 5. A good indicator of the local economy’s strength is the level of taxable sales revenue a community obtains from business transactions, and goods and services sold within its jurisdiction. In Helotes, sales tax revenues over this past five years have ranged from $170,085 in FY 1999, to $249,123 in FY 2003. In general, the amount of sales tax revenues received by the City of Helotes since 1983 has increased significantly over the years as it’s economy has grown. Finding 6. The proposed development of the Old Town Helotes District will serve to expand the community’s market base and drawing power. It will also become a major part of Helotes’s overall marketing strategy designed to bring in new businesses and expand its tourism base. 42 Finding 7. There is evidence suggesting that local businesses in Helotes are not fully meeting the level of demand in their market area. One indicator of this is the amount of income leakage occurring in the local economy resulting from residents shopping elsewhere. This has had an impact on the community’s sales tax revenues. Finding 8. The research indicates that Helotes has several retail/commercial districts. The primary district is located along Bandera Road/Highway 16. The retail/commercial district in the Old Town Helotes District is also significant. However, it tends to be more isolated. Finding 9. At the present time the Old Town Helotes District is characterized by a concentration of retail/commercial and entertainment type businesses. The area also has several underdeveloped land parcels that can be developed into new retail/commercial/entertainment businesses. Finding 10. The lack of pedestrian amenities, coupled with limited shopping venues tends to restrict cross shopping opportunities in the District. People tend to come into the District for a specific purpose and then leave because there is little else to keep them there. Finding 11. Three fundamental goals underlie the District’s redevelopment and revitalization strategy. First, efforts must be made to improve its shopping venues. Second, efforts must be made to enhance its role as the community’s primary commercial, civic and cultural center. Third, high priority should be given to putting in place an infrastructure base to support the long-term development of the District. Finding 12. The challenge for Helotes in revitalizing and redeveloping the Old Town Helotes District is to come up with the right mix of stores and convenience elements, as well as supporting uses such as entertainment and cultural venues that can build on its historical basis and draw in visitors and tourists. Equally important is the design and overall appearance of the District. Finding 13. Within Helotes’ primary/secondary market areas four lifestyle clusters dominate. These are: Affluent Suburbia, Upscale City Singles, Second City Leaders, and Blue Collar Winners. These four clusters include 100% of all those living in Helotes’ primary market area, and nearly 86% of all those residing within its secondary market area. This represents a very high value market base for Old Town Helotes and its proposed District. 43 Finding 14. When we talk about redeveloping revitalizing the Old Town Helotes District and historic core we are also talking about increasing tax revenues, bringing in new businesses, and generating additional investments (public and private). Finding 15. The Old Town Helotes District concept provides the City of Helotes with an opportunity to develop a magnet that will result in accomplishing several additional goals for the community including the development of existing properties in the District to their highest and best use. This will contribute to more effective land use and generate more public/private investments. It will also create a more diversified commercial-retail base for Helotes. Finding 16. Existing businesses in Helotes, Old Town Helotes and the Bandera Road/Highway 16 Corridor - are competitive with other commercial areas within its primary and secondary markets. However, additional emphasis must be placed on meeting the needs and requirements of all businesses in Helotes if it is to maintain its competitive edge. Finding 17. The City of Helotes must take immediate steps to improve the marketing, accessibility, traffic flow and appearance of the Old Town Helotes District and historic core if it is to maintain and expand its current market base. Finding 18. Several initial priorities must be dealt with before the redevelopment and revitalization of the Old Town Helotes District and historic core can move forward. These priorities include the development of a water and sewer system for the District; the creation of a parking plan; and , the development of master plan for the District. C. Recommendations Based on its findings the Center for Economic Development offers the following recommendations: Recommendation 1. The City of Helotes and the Helotes Economic Development Corporation should establish an implementation group or task force composed of civic and business leaders, residents, public officials and city staff to spearhead the redevelopment and revitalization of the Old Town Helotes District, and initiate follow-up activities based on the recommendations provided below. This group should report to the Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors on a periodic basis to brief it on steps being taken to move forward with the development of the District. 44 Recommendation 2. Concurrent with the above, the City of Helotes and the Helotes Economic Development Corporation should move forward with the development of a master plan for the District. At a minimum this plan should address land uses in the District, establish an overall design concept for the District, provide a strong sense of place, enhance the District’s visual quality, improve accessibility to the District, establish a long-term development strategy for the District, enhance its streetscape, and improve signage in the District. The goal of this effort is to promote the development of the District, maximize property and sales tax revenues for the City of Helotes, ensure that land in the District is used effectively, and ensure that the District’s infrastructure is sufficient to support long-term development needs. Recommendation 3. Efforts should be made to diversify the Districts shopping environment in order to attract more visitors and tourists, and encourage local residents to shop in the District. To accomplish this the Economic Development Corporation, working in conjunction with the District’s task force/implementation group, should initiate the development of a business targeting study and a targeted recruitment strategy. The goal is to determine what kinds of businesses should be targeted and set in motion a recruitment strategy to draw these businesses into the District. The intent is to meet unmet consumer demand needs within the District’s primary and secondary trade/market areas, and establish it as a unique shopping and entertainment destination. Recommendation 4. The Economic Development Corporation, the City of Helotes and the taskforce/ implementation group should initiate a comprehensive, broad based marketing and promotional effort to strengthen the District’s overall location and competitive advantages as a destination point for entertainment and shopping. This effort should move forward as the District is redeveloped. Recommendation 5. The City of Helotes and the Economic Development Corporation should immediately establish a B3 zoning overlay for the District, and designate it as the “Old Town Helotes Business District.” In addition, the schedule of uses permitted in the District should be limited to reflect its long-term development requirements, and its establishment as a destination point for visitors, tourists, and others looking to shop there. Recommendation 6. The City of Helotes, the Economic Development Corporation, and the taskforce/ implementation group should establish Old Town Helotes as a District that is centered on the arts, crafts, entertainment, restaurants and specialty retail shops in order to create it as a destination point that provides a strong and inviting sense of place. The goal is to transform Old Town Helotes into a unique shopping and entertainment area for visitors and tourists. 45 Recommendation 7. The City of Helotes, the Economic Development Corporation and the task force/ implementation group should take steps to develop the District’s historic core as a key element in its overall redevelopment/revitalization strategy. Recommendation 8. The City of Helotes, the Economic Development Corporation and the task force/ implementation group should develop a long-term strategy to finance the redevelopment and revitalization of the Old Town Helotes District. This strategy should incorporate several funding sources including the use of sales tax revenues, the acquisition of federal and state grants as appropriate, foundation support, tax increment financing if appropriate, and the issuance of bonds to finance certain kinds of economic development and infrastructure improvements in the District. This investment, in turn, will generate additional sales tax revenues, jobs and business opportunities for the community over time, and establish Old Town Helotes as a destination for shoppers, visitors and tourists in northwest San Antonio. 46 Attachments Photo Survey Old Town Helotes District Legend Description 1 Historical Market –Gugger House 2 El Chaparral Mexican Restaurant 3 Empire Steel 4 First Baptist Church 5 Helotes Country Club 6 Cowboy Pasture 7 Old Bandera Road looking north toward Floores Country Store 8 Westar Alamo Land Surveyers, Inc. 9 Isis Health and Wellness Center 10 Simply Yours – Gifts and More 11 Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church on Riggs Road 12 Helotes Elementary School –Riggs Road 13 Helotes Elementary School – Riggs Road 14 Looking south on Riggs Road 15 Young Brothers Fire Protection Company 16 Mander Automotive 17 Looking north toward Old Bandera Road17 across from Mander Automotive 18 Looking south toward Mander Automotive 19 Looking north on Old Bandera Road near the Hickory Hut Barbeque Restaurant 20 Hickory Hut Barbeque Restaurant 21 Floores Country Store 22 Elf Hardware Photo Survey Old Town Helotes District Legend Description 1………………………………Historical Market – Gugger House 2………………………………El Chaparral Mexican Restaurant 3………………………………Empire Steel 4………………………………First Baptist Church 5………………………………Helotes Country Club 6………………………………Cowboy Pasture 7………………………………Old Bandera Road looking north toward Floores Country Store 8………………………………Westar Alamo Land Surveyors, Inc 9……………………………... Isis Health and Wellness Center 10……………………………. Simply Yours – Gifts and More 11……………………………..Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church on Riggs Road 12……………………………..Helotes Elementary School – Riggs Road 13……………………………..Helotes Elementary School – Riggs Road 14……………………………..Looking south on Riggs Road 15…………………………… .Young Brothers Fire Protection Company 16……………………………..Mander Automotive 17……………………………..Looking north toward Old Bandera Road across from Mander Automotive 18……………………………..Looking south toward Mander Automotive 19……………………………..Looking north on Old Bandera Road near the Hickory Hut Barbeque Restaurant 20……………………………..Hickory Hut Barbeque Restaurant 21……………………………..Floores Country Store 22……………………………..Elf Hardware Attachment I Historial Overview of Helotes And the Old Town Helotes District Source: Palo Alto College, San Antonio, Texas Small Town History Project: Helotes, Texas – Michael R. Causey, Fall 1998