Posted: Dec 4, 2012 4:42 PM
Updated: Dec 5, 2012 12:12 AM
McALLEN - Bar owners are joining forces in hopes of drawing customers back to 17th Street in McAllen.
The now defunct Heart of the City organization once promoted McAllen's newest entertainment district. Business owners were left to fend for themselves after the organization disappeared.
"I think when 17th Street was formed ... it was very, very fast growth," Becky Guerra said. She owns a restaurant on the district and is a member of the newly formed 17th Street Bar Owners Association.
Many businesses shuttered after the Heart of the City disappeared and customer numbers declined.
"I would feel disappointed because it's a wonderful idea," Guerra said.
That led the remaining business owners to form their own association. They began addressing issues like crime.
Guerra said there now is a slight uptick on 17th Street.
"We've actually seen an increase in the number of locations that have come in," Guerra said.
"I think sometimes the media sensationalizes things. Yes, there's crime. But we do have wonderful cooperation with the city of McAllen PD," she said.
The association invested in more lighting along 17th Street. The city also is improving transportation to and from the clubs on the street.
The city's transit system now will offer after-hours service to the area starting Saturday. Buses will pickup and drop off patrons at parking lots and downtown bars. The service will be free.
"You've got a well-lit vehicle. You've got a bus driver on that vehicle. And we're hoping that all of that will make people feel safer," McAllen Transit Director Elizabeth Suarez said.
Guerra said the success of the 5-year-old entertainment district impacts more than just the club owners.