Businesses and residents breathe life into once stagnant 6th Street
Texas City Mayor Matt Doyle can remember when 6th Street was the place to be.
“At one point, it was the heart of the city,” Doyle said. “With the growth to our west, we need to make sure we remember our past, and the best way is to make sure it’s vibrant.”
While 6th Street in downtown Texas City today is still a far cry from its heyday during the 1950s, several business owners are working to return the area to its former glory.
“I grew up in Texas City, sort of between the decades when it was booming and when it was dead,” said Sarah Dodd, who owns Campeche Coffee Etc. on 6th Street. “I’d heard lots of stories about it, though. So, when I heard it was being revitalized, I wanted in.”
After growing stagnant during the 1990s, the street is being bolstered by a growing list of business and property owners.
Manny Lopez was one of the first businesses to kick off the revitalization, said Georgia Meyer, who owns several buildings along the street.
Lopez opened El Cubano Cigars in 2006 in Texas City when he was seeking a second site for the shop and 6th Street seemed like a good fit, he said.
“The mayor came to me and talked about his vision,” Lopez said. “I liked the idea of being part of something and it was a great opportunity to get in on the ground.”
The city made several attempts over the years to revitalize the area, but current development really kicked off when officials purchased some buildings and the county included the street on its list of road projects paid for by road bonds after Hurricane Ike, Doyle said.
Texas City has now spent millions of dollars to spruce up historic 6th Street, while offering incentives to merchants seeking to open businesses downtown.
After Lopez’s store opened, several other property owners have since moved into the area, including Meyer, who, with business partner Bonnie Baty, in 2014 moved Karat Creations Jewelry to the more than 100-year-old 811 6th St. building that once was occupied by Mainland Pharmacy.
Meyer then renovated the building to make way for 11,000 square feet of retail space on the bottom floor and lofts on the top floor.
“I don’t think anyone could have made the building look better than Georgia,” Doyle said.
Then Meyer and Ami Barzilay opened a gift shop, Urban Gypsies on 6th, in the same space.
“It took a lot of work and sweat, but we’re proud,” Barzilay said.
Texas City needed a gift shop, Meyer said.
Barzilay and Meyer also bought the building that became Da Daiquiri Spot, 601 6th St. N., though Herron Lacy operates the business, Meyer said.
Some other developments include a Texas City location for the popular Galveston shop Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream and also America’s Icehouse, Doyle said.
“Things are going real well,” Doyle said. “City staff is really participating in promoting 6th Street and citizens and business owners are doing a great job making sure it takes place. It could always be better, but I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Residents and visitors are noticing the work and respond to it, business owners said.
“This is good for the city and everyone,” Barzilay said.
Residents like to come and remind themselves of childhood, Lopez said.
“It’s been slow-moving — about one or two businesses open every year,” Lopez said. “But they come see that there’s a lot for everyone.”