By Eric Butler
Residential lofts, a dance nightclub, a farmer’s market with an outdoor movie screen — all within a few-block radius at the south end of Main Street?
It may or may not be an accurate view of the future of downtown Clovis, but it is the vision of several graduate students at the University of New Mexico.
At the Clovis city commission meeting on Tuesday, members of the Clovis Downtown Revitalization Program (CDRP) presented a myriad of sketches and models provided by UNM’s Design and Planning Assistance Center.
Thirteen students from the school of architecture and planning visited Clovis one weekend this spring and then came back in May to present their ideas for future development.
Now, most of those ideas have been put into printed form and, for that, CDRP members are grateful.
“I think it just gives people something to think about and it’s a tool we can use to attract investments,” says Zala Smith, CDRP president. “People have certain ideas — now we have a design we can start with.”
The assistance from UNM was facilitated through the Clovis group’s membership in the New Mexico Mainstreet Program.
Some of the ideas envisioned by the architecture students include: A shaded permanent farmer’s market with 30 to 50 vendor spaces, concession facilities, a “pocket” park and room for an outdoor movie screen.
An emphasis on people living in the area; i.e., residents of “lofts” who would be able to patronize downtown businesses within walking distance — such as a proposed combination dance club/piano bar.
A use of the Hotel Clovis not only as a site for potential lofts, but also as a location for the city’s highest-elevated restaurant. The imagined eatery is proposed for the top floor of the building, a building inactive since the mid-1980s.
“We had often talked about a restaurant on the top floor, and those kinds of concepts, but physically changing the skyline with that … well, I just thought that was so cool,” Smith said. “The other concept they had brought up, which I had never thought about, was — in the hotel — actually making some of those two-story areas, taking two floors to make one space.”
CDRP officials are quick to point out that the students’ ideas are simply just that — ideas. And that many of the concepts involve areas that are owned privately.
“As exciting as these designs are, we don’t have a magic wand. It’s going to take good, thorough, proper planning,” said Catharine Johnson, CDRP Executive Director. “What we want to do with our downtown is not to make it look like any Main Street, U.S.A. We want it to be uniquely the Clovis Main Street. The neat thing about working with New Mexico Mainstreet is that we can go back to them and ask for further design assistance — and that’s free.”
Johnson said three areas of development could serve as the initial orientation for the group, if funding sources can be acquired:
1) so-called “streetscape” improvements, with more trees, as an example, along South Main;
2) the implementation of a farmer’s market; and
3) renovations for the four buildings that make up the railroad district at the south end of Main.
“If anybody would like to see the designs, they should call me,” said Johnson, who works in the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce office. “I’d be happy to make presentations, just like we did for the commission — to anyone who wants to see it.”