Weslaco Historic Downtown Experiencing a 90% Occupancy Rate
WESLACO, Texas – The Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco (EDCW) announces it has an elevated occupancy rate in the Historic Downtown district of Weslaco. The Weslaco Downtown area encompasses Texas Blvd. between Pike Blvd. and Sixth Street, while the Historic Downtown district is comprised only of the establishments south of Old Business 83.
With the acquisition of Casa Kevin, its newest downtown tenant, only a few vacant buildings remain along the main Texas Blvd. thoroughfare and interest in each of the remaining buildings is high, according to EDCW officials. A total of 164 buildings are located along the entire Downtown district [Pike to Sixth], with a tenant occupancy rate of 87%. The more concentrated Historic Downtown district of Weslaco [Old Business 83 to Sixth] boasts a staggering 90% tenant occupancy rate.
Before the construction of Expressway 83 in the 1970s, the downtown district served as the sole shopping destination for Weslaco residents. With the completion of the highway and the arrival of the big box stores, which catered more to the transitory volume shopper, made it difficult for the many smaller mom-and-pop, family-owned businesses to survive.
Nevertheless, many of these smaller businesses remained resilient and creative in their marketing strategies to have not only survived but also created a unique cultural atmosphere that is now among the most highly sought-after retail spaces available in Weslaco.
The blending and variety of retailers provide shoppers with a true “destination experience,” ranging from high-end apparel, elegant and refined jewelry, antiques, collectibles, five-and-dime products and accessories, and now nighttime entertainment (barhopping, restaurant, and food truck dining). Thus, cultivating the energetic vibe and keeping Historic Downtown alive.
For Cisneros Fine Jewelry, the choice to open thirty-nine (39) years ago was one taken by the late Rudy Cisneros, a former educator who had a passion for business. Mr. Cisneros started selling jewelry out of a briefcase with a vision of one day having his own brick-and-mortar. “My grandfather’s vision and legacy lives on through his family, where we continue to offer quality jewelry with a personalized touch right in the heart of Weslaco [Historic Downtown]”, says Isabella Celeste Ochoa, granddaughter of Rudy Cisneros, founder of Cisneros Jewelry.
The iconic Wells of Weslaco clothing store is one of the few remaining vacant buildings with 7,000 sq. ft. of ground-floor retail space and a 2,000 sq. ft. second-floor storage room, but EDC officials believe that it is only a matter of time before a worthy tenant sees value in the space and brings a creative concept to historic downtown Weslaco. The building currently has a new owner with impressive leasing options.
“These businesses elected to set up shop off the ‘beaten path’”, said Steven Valdez, EDCW Executive Director, “and this really means that they truly recognize that they do not need high traffic to be sustainable and prosperous.”
EDCW officials believe that much of the downtown district’s growth can be attributed to the Façade Renovations & Improvement Grant and the Weslaco 100 Grant. Both grants are offered by the EDCW as a 50/50 match and aim to beautify and enhance the curb appeal and/or ensure the building stays up to the city code. “The EDCW staff has worked diligently to revitalize the Downtown area and the hard work has paid off,” says Juan J. “JJ” Serrano, EDCW Board President, “The downtown area is now a vibrant and cultural community.”
Additionally, two events that have contributed greatly to the success of downtown Weslaco, are the 7-month season of the Alfresco Weslaco: Music & Art on the Street Festival, coordinated by the EDCW, where over 90 vendors circulate one-of-a-kind items to crowds of over 3,000 to 4,000 visitors. The event occurs every third Thursday of the month, from August to February. And in March comes the Texas Onion Fest, hosted by the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the largest single-day festivals in the state where more than 10,000 visitors line the streets of downtown.
“The choice to open a shop, 13 years ago, was not a hard decision to make, as my calculations pointed me towards Weslaco. Growth was happening all around [Historic Downtown], the community atmosphere was what I was looking for, and I could not dismiss the convenience factor of being centrally located,” says Maurice Welton, Owner of Edible Arrangements. “If you are business-savvy, you need to jump on the Weslaco train, it is the place to be.”
Over the last couple of years, steadfast to the city slogan, Weslaco has truly positioned itself as the “City on the Grow”.
For more information about the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco, please call us at 956-969-0838 or come by our office located at 275 S. Kansas Avenue, Weslaco, TX 78596.