A strategic plan may help move Pflugerville forward, redefining downtown and other development throughout the city.
The plan, written with the paid guidance of Austin-based Avalanche Consulting, will be discussed between the Pflugerville Community Development Corp. and the Pflugerville City Council in December. It outlines the direction for future growth the City Council will take, along with the PCDC.
The city paid $147,500 to contract with Avalanche in July.
The strategic plan is a first for the PCDC since its inception in 2009. The new plan will update one developed in 2011 by the City Council.
“We’ve had a very creative group of people involved with our planning,” PCDC Executive Director Amy Madison said. “The city is rapidly growing. It’s an exciting time.”
The city’s future is exciting and challenging at the same time, according to Pflugerville City Manager Brandon Wade.
“This City Council will have some tough decisions to make for the future of our city,” Wade said. “One of those decisions will be what to do with downtown.”
Wade said downtown has two directions in which it could move.
“Is it going to be an economic-based downtown or an entertainment-based downtown?” Wade said. “This council will make that decision.”
Currently, the downtown district, which has a limited number of historic buildings because a fire destroyed an entire city block on July 21, 1971, is an economic-based downtown, according to Wade.
Jeff Coleman, a State Farm insurance agent with an office on Main Street and the city’s former mayor as of Nov. 29, refers to the central business district as a “2-by-4,” or two blocks by four blocks in size, surrounded immediately by residential properties.
“The residents in those neighborhoods have been very solid on their opposition to a business district expanding,” Coleman said. “Funding will be the next council’s biggest challenge. They’ll need to find the money to invest in downtown because it’s not in the general operating budget.”
Coleman said the downtown area can thrive as an entertainment district.
“Hanovers has proven that,” he said of the neighborhood bar and restaurant at 108 E. Main St. since 1999. “There’s huge potential in downtown, but it will take the right people to make the investment at the right time, the same time.”
Both Wade and Coleman said they feel City Hall needs to be moved elsewhere for downtown to be viable.
“We ran out of space a long time ago,” Wade said of the city’s offices at 100 E. Main St. “The planning department is renting space from the fire department. Human resources is renting elsewhere.”
Coleman said the property could be vital to a downtown resurgence.
“When I was first elected, I was a proponent of moving City Hall to another area to free up that block for development,” Coleman said. “We’ve never had enough mass downtown to make it a destination for retail or entertainment. We need four or five businesses who want to come there.”
The makeup of the council has also changed since the Nov. 8 election. Voters agreed to add another elected official to form a seven-member council. Another change voters approved is the mayor will now vote on all issues rather than just to break ties, as the charter mandated in the past.
Coleman was term-limited and replaced by Victor Gonzales, who was scheduled to be sworn in with new Council Member Doug Weiss on
Nov. 29, after this edition went to press.
Wade said both Gonzales and Weiss have experience with the city that will smooth the transition.
The downtown area has had several small businesses open in 2016. Jireh Boots, 200 E. Pecan St., is owned by Pflugerville residents Tony and
“We wanted to make an investment in our community,” Tony Hernandez said. “We wanted to give something back.”
Across the street, Taco House opened Nov. 8 at 104 N. Railroad Ave. Such a sign of activity is exactly what Wade said he likes to see as city manager.
“Mom-and-pop businesses are the soul and lifeblood of the community,” Wade said. “In a shopping center, you find your typical stores. They’re great, too. But the more smaller stores you have, the stronger your community is. There has to be a mix and balance.”
Coleman said in spite of the rapid growth of the city, which had 4,444 residents in 1990 and as of 2015 has an estimated 57,521, Pflugerville still has a small-town feel in many ways.
“Most of our people would like to support their local businesses,” Coleman said. “The city will need to develop another corridor of business other than Pecan and [FM] 685. I think you’ll see it east of [SH] 130. We need more than just two business corridors.”
Madison said Pflugerville has a solid workforce attractive to new businesses coming to town. Large employers, including Living Spaces and a new hospital, will add to the mix of new business and should spawn growth in other areas.
“We have a great location, cost of living and a sustained workforce, underwritten by the universities that surround us,” Madison said. “Our access to other parts of the region also makes us desirable. We have SH 130, Austin Executive Airport and we’re only 20 minutes from Austin-Bergstrom [International Airport].”
Madison said the strategic plan will offer focus for growth in all areas of Pflugerville, which will likely affect the central business district.
“We brought together all of our strengths to develop a plan, so all of our partners are connected,” Madison said. “Our goals take into account our chamber, city, school district, small businesses, larger companies and downtown. Keeping our core is important, but we have challenges. Infrastructure upgrades can help us recruit
businesses. We all need to work together for Pflugerville.”
Wade said the plan will be discussed during a January or February council workshop and then used to help develop the fiscal year 2017-18 budget, Wade said.
“It’s exciting for us to have a strategic plan,” said Wade, who has been city manager for six years. “To have the collective will of the council in writing will guide me and give us goals. It will be good for more than downtown—it will be good for the city.”