Round Rock budgets $125,000 to aid retail
City seeks to boost older retail areas such as U.S. 79, La Frontera shopping district.
With the University Boulevard area thriving as a regional retail center and downtown revitalization underway, Round Rock city officials are now giving attention to boosting business in the city’s older retail corridors.
The city is setting aside $125,000 in the fiscal year 2018 budget for a retail redevelopment strategy, which looks at ways to boost older retail corridors such as U.S. 79 and the La Frontera shopping district. The Round Rock Chamber, which handles economic development for the city, would also handle the redevelopment strategy.
Brad Wiseman, city director of planning and development services, said retail centers go through transitions as they age, and the city’s older retail centers could use some help.
“There are some areas of La Frontera that are doing extremely well, but there are some vacancies” in storefronts, he said. La Frontera has large national retail stores such as Kohl’s and Lowe’s that attract customers to smaller stores within the shopping centers.
Older shopping areas like those situated on U.S. 79 are different; they are heavily occupied by small, independent retail stores that largely serve the local area. The University Boulevard shopping district was designed by the city as a regional retail destination corridor, with retailers such as IKEA, Bass Pro Shops and Round Rock Premium Outlets.
The city is not seeking to replicate the University Boulevard retail area as it looks at redeveloping older retail corridors, Wiseman said. Instead, revitalizing the city’s older retail areas would need a different approach.
For example, older retail centers may benefit from creating more pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, like enhancing the facade of storefronts or improving landscaping, he said.
Donut 79, a small, independent business in the Round Rock East shopping center on U.S. 79, is in an aging strip mall anchored by a Goodwill thrift store and Bealls. The doughnut shop opened in an empty storefront on Christmas Day 2016.
Donut 79 store manager Christina Crisella said while business has been good, the summer has led to slower business than the winter months. Enhancing the aging strip mall, which once was the site of an H-E-B grocery store, could boost business, she said.
Wiseman said he was unaware of retailers in the older retail centers asking for the city’s help with revitalization. Rather, the proposed retail development strategy is part of the city’s planning to get ahead of concerns and look for new opportunities to improve retail throughout the city, he said.