Downtown Tyler revitalization efforts recognized at awards gala
Folks in Tyler know a lot of energy has been poured into revitalizing the historic downtown, but now people across the state realize it too.
Those efforts captured top honors Thursday at the Texas Downtown Revitalization President's Awards Gala in Wichita Falls.
Local officials walked away with two state awards: City Councilman Martin Heines with Downtowner of the Year, and the Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition as Best Downtown Partner program.
Main Street Director Beverly Abell said Friday the awards are significant and recognized as two of the most prestigious offered at the event.
"Our volunteers dedicate thousands of hours per year to the cause of revitalizing the historic heart of Tyler," she said. "We are so grateful for their time, talent and heart ... We could not be more proud."
Without them, downtown might be completely different, officials said.
Heines was selected for his years of work on downtown projects, serving as a volunteer, Heart of Tyler board member, property and business owner, project supporter and council member.
He was quick Friday to shrug off praise.
"There is no such thing as an individual award," he said, crediting the efforts of elected leaders and countless volunteers. "They are the ones who should be receiving this award - I'm happy to accept on behalf of them."
The Downtown Arts Coalition won top honors for its many contributions to promotion of the arts in downtown Tyler.
"Being appreciated for our support is always encouraging," said artist Joan Iverson, who serves on the Gallery Main Street jury committee. "I feel like this is an opportunity to give back to the community."
She said the gallery provides a venue for local artists to display their work, an almost unheard of opportunity just a few years ago.
Ms. Iverson said the gallery elevates Tyler's reputation as a destination for displaying and appreciating art.
Thursday's honors are not the first for the downtown.
Last year, Ms. Abell received the inaugural Susan Campbell Award for Professional Excellence.
In 2009, former Mayor Joey Seeber was named Downtowner of the Year; city of Tyler, Downtown Partner of the Year; Discovery Science Place, Downtown Business of the Year; and Moore Grocery Lofts, Best Adaptive Reuse.
The Texas Downtown Association, founded in 1985, has more than 400 members involved in more than $1 billion in downtown revitalization efforts.
Heines said when people visit communities, they always seem to gravitate toward the downtown areas.
"I think we've made great strides over the last 25 years to make it a great downtown," he said. "I want to do my part to better our community and our downtown."