Downtown Pflugerville discussion includes suggested West Pecan Street changes

Pflugerville residents and business owners listen to a discussion about downtown at the City Council meeting Tuesday.

Pflugerville residents and business owners listen to a discussion about downtown at the City Council meeting Tuesday.

Pflugerville City Manager Brandon Wade said he is not looking for another study about downtown Pflugerville.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, he pointed to a stack of binders filled with downtown studies at the end of the dais.

"We need to do something," Wade said.

To fuel the fire for discussion about downtown Pflugerville, Wade and staff presented a plan that would give the city control of a stretch of West Pecan from Swenson Farms to FM 685, turn it into a one-way eastbound road, while extending Main Street east and curving back to West Pecan Street, making it one-way westbound.

The change would allow for more parking, Wade said, and spread heavy traffic out through a redeveloped downtown district.

Wade’s comments sparked discussion and, in the end, some direction. A special subcommittee of council members Doug Weiss and  Jeff Marsh will work with city staff to develop a downtown boundary map, which will be bordered by established neighborhoods.

“There is going to definitely have to be a lot of discussion about the neighborhood impact,” Council Member Mike Heath said, suggesting the city look at zoning and land-use options for the properties.

Currently, Main Street has several office buildings, City Hall, a bank, a day care center and a restaurant. Several restaurants, offices, retail and bars surround Main Street along North Railroad Avenue and West Pecan Street. All would be included in the downtown district if it is formed.

The presentation compared the size of Pflugerville’s downtown space to that of Georgetown and Round Rock. Pflugerville has a 19-acre core and 160 acres for the downtown area, while Georgetown has an 18-acre core and 112.6 total acres and Round Rock has 37 acres of core space and 185 total acres. Wade said Round Rock restructured traffic in its downtown when it made recent improvements.

Wade said he does not believe a downtown revival can work without changing traffic patterns, which would involve land near United Methodist Church, west to North Railroad Avenue. He asked the council for direction.

“I hoped the shocking nature of this would spur discussions,” Wade said of shifting traffic through the city, while making it more walkable. “This isn’t even part of our strategic plan.”

Wade said he had preliminary discussions with Texas Department of Transportation officials regarding taking over the stretch of West Pecan Street. He said the council needs to discuss downtown soon or forget about developing it.

Heath agreed but said so far the project lacks a vision and a champion.

Council Member Doug Weiss said the council needs to decide what downtown should be. If it includes entertainment, restaurants, community services and neighborhood services, “We’ve got to put something out there because we’re not going anywhere without ideas.”

"I appreciate the council's effort to refocus on the downtown area," Pflugerville Downtown Association President Victor Johnson said.

City employees will present an updated downtown area map for discussion purposes at a future City Council meeting.

“We need to look at what downtown could be and decide if we’re going to do it,” Wade said.
By Joe Warner
Joe Warner is executive editor of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor for Central Texas and senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.


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