Downtown San Marcos has historically served many roles. As the county seat, people are drawn into downtown to conduct official business. It acts as a gateway to the hill country, routing travelers through downtown on Ranch Road 12. And it functions as an entertainment district for the city and Texas State University. San Marcos has also served as a regional commercial center for surrounding communities like Wimberly, Lockhart, and Seguin. In the decades since the San Marcos outlet malls opened, they have become one of the state’s major attractions capturing travelers on I-35 between San Antonio and Austin. However, the popularity and size of the outlet malls 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.
As part of a downtown planning process led by Broaddus & 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. 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 began 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 commenced in 2011, and funding for parking management was added to the city’s capital improvement program.