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Partnering to revitalize La Vernia

Partnering to revitalize La Vernia
ELAINE MAZUREK STEPHENS/Contributor Tom Kennelly (standing) announces that the UTSA College of Architecture and the La Vernia Municipal Development District will work together to revitalize La Vernia’s Central Business District in 2013. Applauding the announcement are (from left) La Vernia Code Enforcement Officer Janet Thelen, American Investment Planners Vice President Barbara Magor, La Vernia Municipal Development District Executive Director Jennifer Kolbe, Jake McBee of Jon Wayne Heating and Air Conditioning, senior business manager for Wells Fargo Bank Mark Blankinship, principal of Campos Architecture PLLC Arthur Campos, and Realtor LeAn Watson with Fulmer Realty.

The UTSA College of Architec-ture and Rural Business Program are partnering with the La Vernia Municipal Development District (LVMDD) to complete a comprehensive study focused on revitalizing the La Vernia Central Business District. The overall project is geared to attract private investment to create a vibrant, livable, walkable community.

The project will be done in two phases. The UTSA Rural Business Program is currently working on Phase I (Strategic Plan), which relies heavily on input from the Central Business District stakeholders. Components include goals, objectives, and timelines. The goals will fall under one of five categories: organization, promotion, design, economic restructuring, and branding. Phase II will engage the UTSA College of Architecture to assess the current Central Business District character, streetscape, use patterns, connectivity, and infrastructure. Based on the assessment, recommendations will be made to improve the viability and usability of the area. Phase II is scheduled to begin in 2013.

“Our main objective is to make a public investment in the Central Business District that will encourage private ventures and preserve the charm of the area,” said Jennifer Kolbe of the La Vernia Municipal Development District. “Putting a plan together to get there is a huge undertaking.”

According to site selector and economic development consultant Dean Barber, principal of Barber Business Advisors, LLC, most site selection consultants agree that a place that invests in itself in terms of infrastructure and/or human resources is generally a more attractive place for future business operations.

“I realize that times are tough and that state and local governments are strapped for money,” Barber said. “But when I see a community spending money on upgrading infrastructure, on work-force training, or quality of life things, I tend to remember those things. If you believe and invest in your community’s future, well, then I can too.”

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