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2019 Great American Main Street Semi-Finalist Spotlight: San Marcos, Texas

  
March 21, 2019 | 2019 Great American Main Street Semi-Finalist Spotlight: San Marcos, Texas 

In a few days, we’ll announce the three winners of the 2019 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) at the Main Street Now Conference in Seattle, Washington. In anticipation of the GAMSA reveal, we’re highlighting each of the 10 GAMSA semi-finalists on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every day until the #NOW19 conference.

Semi-finalists are selected by a national jury of community development professionals and leaders in the fields of economic development and historic preservation. These communities exemplify the power of the Main Street Approach® to transform traditional downtowns and neighborhood business districts.

San Marcos Main Street • San Marcos, Texas

Year Founded: 1986 | Population: 57,743 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 20kissing_alley.pngSan Marcos Main Street conducted a placemaking effort to officially name Kissing Alley, which has now become one of the most popular photo spots in San Marcos. Photo credit: San Marcos Main Street

“Even though Downtown San Marcos has the third-oldest Main Street Program in Texas, the residents and visitors who come here are diverse in terms of age and background. Our downtown’s diversity enhances our vibrancy and culture and fosters an inclusive community. This makes our program unique because we are able to form strong partnerships with our business owners and non-profit organizations to host events. It is truly a collaborative effort to cultivate a lively downtown. Our partners contribute to the community by hosting live music events nearly every day and commissioning various art pieces and murals from local artists.”
– Josie Falletta, Interim Main Street Manager, San Marcos Main Street

Once an epicenter of business and activity in the early 1800’s, downtown San Marcos was neglected and vacant by the 1980s. Now, thanks to San Marcos Main Street’s partnerships, placemaking, dedicated resources, and creative programming, their downtown has seen rapid growth while maintaining its small-town charm.

Since the San Marcos Main Street Program launched in 1986, they have generated nearly $100 million in private investment, sparking the return of businesses to downtown. Now, their Main Street boasts a wide array of trendy dining options, specialty shops, art galleries, and museums, which have been a boon for tourism. Known as a gateway to beautiful Texas Hill Country, San Marcos now draws tourists who visit from surrounding Austin, Houston, and Dallas, who come seeking an escape from city life. Visitors come to float on the San Marcos River and explore the trails close to downtown.

These amenities have also made downtown a desirable place to live. In 2004, there were only 522 residents living within the downtown district. Today, Downtown San Marcos is home to over 3,200 residents, with another 3,000 living within walking distance of the historic central square.

Fun fact: In 2016, the National Main Street Center named San Marcos one of the most romantic Main Streets in America. San Marcos Main Street conducted a placemaking effort to officially name Kissing Alley, which has now become one of the most popular photo spots in San Marcos. Each February, they install a Valentine’s Day “mailbox” and stamps all letters “sent from Kissing Alley” to commemorate the most romantic downtown on the most romantic day of the year.

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Check back tomorrow for our final GAMSA semi-finalist spotlight!

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