City of San Marcos (TX) – Downtown Master Plan

ChallengeSan Marcos has historically been a regional commercial center for surrounding cities, drawing people from communities like Wimberley, Lockhart, and Seguin. For tourists along the I 35 corridor, the San Marcos outlet malls have become one of the state’s major attractions between San Antonio and Austin. The city also serves as a gateway to the hill country, routing travelers on their way to Wimberley through downtown on Ranch Road 12, and as the county seat, drawing people into downtown to conduct county business. The downtown also functions as an entertainment district for the city and Texas State University, with limited dining, shopping and entertainment options. However, the popularity and size of the outlet malls, coupled with the availability of large tracts outside the downtown, has created a competing center of gravity that has drawn commerce and development out of downtown. Anticipated expansion out of Austin and San Antonio will undoubtedly continue to create growth management issues for San Marcos as well.

Approach As part of downtown planning process led by Broaddus and Associates, TIP conducted a downtown market analysis. Based on the vision of downtown San Marcos becoming a regional employment center and destination, TIP estimated the potential demand for office, residential, and retail space. In addition to these projections, our team provided strategic recommendations to help the city assume a larger regional role for downtown. Specific recommendations focused on financing mechanisms and the promotion of downtown opportunities through supportive policies and programs. Finally, TIP performed a fiscal analysis to demonstrate the impact of different development scenarios on the city’s revenues.

Outcome The San Marcos Downtown Master Plan was adopted by the city council in late 2008 and was awarded the Plan of the Year by the Central Texas Section of the American Planning Association. The city has begun implementation of the plan by first aligning the city’s development code with the plan’s vision and planning principles. In addition, the Hutchison Street Drainage Project was modified to include features suggested in the master plan, a downtown sidewalks project will commence in 2011, and funding for parking management has been added to the CIP.

TIP Contact Caroline Alexander

Photo credit Zereshk

Photo credit Wisdom From Introspec

Photo credit ©Travis Witt