by: Kristen Guilfoos
Amarillo, Texas - Crimes of opportunity could soon be on the decline in downtown Amarillo... Officials say it all hinges on residential growth.
There are 20 lofts planned in the old Panhandle Produce building at the corner of 7th and S. Grand downtown. They are called the Double R Lofts.
About 150 people came to the open house to check out the lofts on Thursday evening.
Amarillo Police say that interest in downtown living could be a great thing for the entire city. They say the more people who want to live downtown, the more overall safety in the area could improve.
From the moment developer Darin Hudson saw the Panhandle Produce warehouse, he knew it was a diamond in the rough. "I fell in love with the old warehouses here, and downtown, it has a lot of character. I like restoring the old buildings, bringing them back to life."
Center City's Beth Duke says, "When people see this they'll get a whole new idea of what it's like to live downtown. And people who latch onto that brand new idea are exactly what Center City needs to stay on track with it's ten year plan.
"Right now we have 100 residential units downtown. Over the next five to ten years we would like to have 500 people living downtown."
Not only will more people living downtown increase the city's tax base, but APD says there could be another benefit as well. Sgt. Brent Barbee says, "Ideally there would be merchants there and people walking around and that would probably reduce the rates of opportunity crimes."
As downtown continues to grow, APD is looking into ways to better keep residents safe... Whether it's putting more officers on foot patrol or even on segways... Everything is on the table.