Seventy Downtown Stores Now Closed, More May Be Next
Downtown Laredo has taken a big hit over the last few years.
Fewer people from north of here are visiting and it's had its impact.
Downtown business owners also say people from Nuevo Laredo have stopped visiting because of the long wait to get across the bridge.
Now one concerned business owner says the city needs to stop wasting money and do something quickly before it's too late.
There has been idea after idea.
And still nothing, or no one has been able to revitalize downtown Laredo.
Just a few years ago, the city paid $500,000 to a San Antonio company to draw up a master plan for downtown Laredo.
“This was done over four years ago. City of Laredo you spent $500,000 what did we get for our money. To this day they still will not answer us.”
Business owner Les Norton says what most people don't realize is that the city of Laredo never had any money to actually make the plans reality.
And remember the city purchased the plaza theater.
“That was going to be the catalyst that was going to spur revitalization in downtown.”
Norton says there wasn't enough to actually bring that building up to code.
So here it sits.
All while downtown is taking a dramatic hit.
The windows of this store are dusty and some are broken. As are the ones of that store, the one next to it and the one after that. As it stands 70 downtown store are closed. And it doesn’t look like they will open anytime soon.
“We need to attract the consumer to stay in Laredo.”
He says the city has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars drawing up what could be instead of saving it for actually doing something.
He spoke about the issue at local rotary club meeting where members say they could think of a few things that could bring downtown back to life.
“People need to have fun and have a place where they can eat go to a show go to a play nice break to have a beer or drink to have fun with families.”
“The private sector is willing.”
But it's going to take cooperation from the city.
Norton wants city leaders to take time to actually do what they were voted in to do think of ways to put the City of Laredo ahead of the game.
“This is what the city government needs to focus on what can they do to bring people.”
He says at this pace.
The future looks dim.
Norton says people have given ideas of building a snow-park or something very different from any other place in Texas.
He says hundreds of jobs have been lost because of stores closing downtown and it's only getting worse.
We put in a call late this afternoon to the council member of the downtown district.
She has not returned our call