A new program aimed at helping fill downtown's empty buildings was unveiled Tuesday at a major intersection in Longview's historical central business district.

Crews installed window decals, created by 3M Building Graphics, at 101 W. Cotton St., hoping the three-dimensional look they provide will prompt a tenant to occupy one of downtown's vacant buildings.

The decal, which presents a vision of a quaint, inviting boutique hardware store applied to the vacant building's windows, is designed to let potential occupants envision what the space might become.

"A lot of people talk about the vacant buildings downtown. We have a number of them. Part of what Main Street is here for is to help with that," said Kayla Cantey, convention, meetings and Main Street manager for the Longview Chamber of Commerce. "If it helps bring in a company, then we have done our job ... If it turns out that they get a business owner in here in the next couple months and we take it down, then that is a success."

The project is beginning on a single block of Tyler Street between Center and High streets, which recently has had at least five vacant buildings, including 100 W. Tyler St. (formerly Shannon's Beading Basket), 104 W. Tyler St. (offices on street level beneath condominiums), 101 W. Tyler St. (formerly Zowie), 105 W. Tyler St. and 116 W. Tyler St. (former Glass Garden Crafters Mall, where a new tenant is renovating the space).

"What we wanted to do is create awareness of the possibilities that could happen with these buildings," said Diana Velazquez, retail development coordinator with the Longview Chamber of Commerce. "A lot of European building owners and brokers use this company to cover the windows with the possibilities of the building."

While a main reason for the difficulty of bringing in tenants is parking, downtown boosters hope another factor is companies' inability to imagine vacant buildings as renovated - a problem directly addressed by the new program.

The city has two large parking lots on Cotton Street that have been upgraded in the past few years to provide additional parking for the downtown area, which also has been getting new streets, sidewalks and landscaping, most recently under a streets bond approved by voters in 2011.

In March, the City Council approved a roughly $231,000 contract to finish the work on the lots and pay for repaving and reconstructing, also paid for under the $52.6 million streets improvement bond.

In May and June 2013, 12 lights were placed in the parking lots for just more than $100,000 to help with visibility and increase safety at night.

Cantey said the roughly $3,000 windows project was paid for with funds raised by the 2013 Color Up 5K run in Longview.

"Not all the money is going toward these decals, but we wanted to use that color run money for downtown Longview and not just for the event part of Main Street," she said.

The decals, which were installed on windows facing Tyler Street, offer passersby a vignette of how the storefront could look under a different occupant.

Those behind the new program, which Velazquez said was a fashionable trend in Europe, but being used for only the second time in Texas, acknowledged the need to draw tenants to downtown buildings.

The property owner, Tom Eberhart of Eberhart Miller Real Estate Services, approved the final design and gave consent for the decal, but it was paid for by the Main Street group.

The chamber provided the floor plan of the building's interior, along with exterior shots, to 3M Building Graphics to have the custom window dressing created.

Eberhart previously said he wanted to find the right tenant for the high-ceilinged, 4,000-square-foot space at 101 W. Tyler St.

"That intersection is the main intersection of the entire downtown, so we want the right store," Eberhart said, adding he didn't want to see the former hardware store walled up and turned into office space.

He did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Velazquez said success at 101 W. Tyler St. might help the program launch.

"Hopefully once other building owners and brokers see what we did with this window, this building, hopefully they will allow us to do that to their buildings," she said.

Cantey said it was important to get the window decals before the holiday season.

"We wanted it up before the Christmas parade because we knew there would be thousands of people in the area at that time, and we wanted them to be able to see it," she said.