The Town Square Initiative (TSI) operates in affiliation with the Texas Main Street Program (TMSP) sharing staff, resources, and the core values. However, TSI is a stand-alone program within the Community Heritage Development Division at the Texas Historical Commission and serves communities that are participating in other agency programs.
TSI was developed in 2014 under the direction of the Commission utilizing staff positions appropriated by the 83rd Legislature. The program was envisioned to use an interdisciplinary team to holistically address redevelopment challenges in historic downtowns. The team would work to develop services that could leverage the significant investments the state and local communities had already made through the work of agency programs such the TMSP, Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program (THCPP), and the Certified Local Government Program (CLG). In addition, the state tax credit was introduced in January 2015 resulting in a significant amount of new private sector investor interest in Texas. The moment was ideal for supporting and encouraging this downtown investment potential.
A year of research and field work resulted in the concept of specialized design, planning, and economic development services that add an additional resource to these powerful agency programs. The Town Square team now works closely and long-term with communities using diverse strategies that result in reoccupied historic buildings and broad, positive momentum for downtown overall.
The TSI team provides services to spur preservation-based projects so that local, small-scale, and high-quality development becomes more achievable in historic Texas downtowns. TSI’s work is guided by a place-driven and market-informed philosophy meaning that we focus on supporting viable redevelopment projects in communities that are strongly motivated by enhancing the quality of place in their downtowns. Through this approach, development barriers are addressed, a place-driven perspective is prioritized, and vacant and underutilized properties become investment opportunities and community assets once again.
TSI provides project support in communities that have already demonstrated a substantial commitment to historic preservation-based revitalization. An interdisciplinary team with expertise in architecture, planning and economic development provides specialized assistance with a focus on:
- Conceptual design and financial feasibility studies for vacant buildings that are place-driven and
- Coordinated downtown planning strategies to address development barriers in order to make it easier for local property owners and entrepreneurs to invest in their downtowns.
- Increasing and influencing the market exposure of available properties across Texas including attracting investors who value historic architecture and the special qualities of each community.
- Providing information, education, and resources on best practices that have a positive impact on local policy and decision-making.
Through a strong belief that historic commercial resources and their appropriate preservation is a major contributor to the overall economic, social, and cultural vitality of a community, the staff of the Initiative shall exhibit great passion, interest, and enthusiasm for assisting local stakeholders as they revitalize their historic town centers. To that end, we view ourselves as public servants working in harmony to help local communities meet their objectives. We will strive to provide highly effective individualized services to our designated programs in a team-centered approach.