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ArtWalk to showcase available downtown space

By Sherry Koonce skoonce@news-journal.com
July 25, 2012 at 10 p.m.

In an effort to attract more people and businesses to downtown Longview, One Hundred Acres of Heritage Main Street is joining with ArtWalk Longview to showcase all the area has to offer during an open house tonight.

In addition to brick-paved streets, old-fashioned lamp posts, restaurants, offices, boutiques and entertainment venues, downtown has plenty of vacant space for new businesses.

"We are trying to drum up awareness that there are available shops downtown," said Susan Gill, Main Street advisory board member.

As part of the year's second ArtWalk, six vacant buildings on Tyler Street are opening doors to the public.

Longview Main Street hopes the open house will attract like businesses in the area, and there's no better way to do that than to bring more businesses downtown.

"Like businesses will attract like businesses," Gill said. "Right now, Tyler Street is pretty much an entertainment district with restaurants. If we could get more retail downtown, hopefully more will follow, then we can start driving people downtown."

Among those vacancies are the old Shannon's Beading Basket at the corner of Tyler and Center streets and Zowie's, right across the street.

Both are prime locations, Gill said.

Several of the city's boutiques have been invited to attend the open house, as well as the public. Property managers will be on-site to answer questions.

Of the 2.2 million square feet in the city's One Hundred Acre Historical District, 132,000 square feet are vacant, Gill said.

The One Hundred Acres area runs from its southern South Street border, to a couple of blocks past High Street on the west, to the eastern First Street boundary and Whaley Street to the north.

While vacant buildings are showcased during ArtWalk, some of those spaces on Thursday won't be empty.

In conjunction with ArtWalk, art displayed at various downtown locations will be featured in the vacant buildings along with musicians.

Special this year is a hot air balloon competition exhibit at Tammy Cromer-Campbell Photo, Gallery and Productions, 207 N. Center St.

Cromer-Campbell said she wanted to do something tied to this year's U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship, scheduled for the first time in tandem with Longview's annual Great Texas Balloon Race this week.

"Artists all over the nation were asked to submit hot air balloon photographs. Entries and winners are on display at Cromer-Campbell's studio through Sept. 14.

ArtWalk is a self guided tour of downtown businesses exhibiting and selling art. Musicians and other performance arts are part of the event.



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