The Katy Downtown Plaza, located between avenues B and C, is closer to becoming a space that officials expect will draw tourists, shoppers and new businesses.

Construction for the civic center and visitors center buildings was completed in October for the Katy Rice Festival, city of Katy Director of Tourism Kayce Reina said.

Local organization Keep Katy Beautiful hosted the plaza’s first event Jan. 20 at the civic center, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris said.

“We are very excited to open up the plaza area for public gatherings,” Harris said. “Events like these keep the vision and small-town charm of downtown and historic Katy.”

At the 2020 State of the City luncheon held by the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce, Reina said the city will soon rent out the civic center.

“[The facility’s] open space, it seats about 125 around," she said. "We have the latest, greatest technology with projectors and stuff. So it’s going to be be a really great use of space for our residents.”

Reina said the plaza project is on schedule with no delays. The city is now working with a designer to complete the interior of the visitors center including displays and artifacts.

She added the city is bidding the construction of the outdoor plaza area, including the outdoor museum, green space, stage and public restrooms. This part of the project is expected to be done within nine to 12 months.

A $2.1 million construction contract was awarded to Nash Industries in December 2018 for the Katy Downtown Plaza project, which broke ground a year ago.

The Plaza is the third phase of a revitalization project for Katy’s downtown. Discussions about developing a downtown district began in the early 2000s, Council Member Durran Dowdle said. He and Harris said rain events in 2016 and 2017 delayed the city’s long-term goal of revitalizing downtown.

“[The plaza] was still a focus, but as things happen ... money has to be appropriated,” Dowdle said. “We had to spend a bunch of money to clean the city up after the storm.”

He added the city spent funds in cleaning ditches and buying equipment.

“The storms created problems we needed to take care of,” Dowdle said. “Instead of putting money into something like the downtown project, we took care of these other issues around town.”

But now that the Katy Downtown Plaza is nearing completion, Reina, Harris and Dowdle said the goal is to create a vibrant and active area.

“We want people to be able to shop and stroll, see businesses,” Dowdle said. “People can come spend a day and enjoy everything.”