Kelly Franks is retiring after 25 years of administrating the Main Street Program in San Marcos (photo by Don Anders).
Kelly Franks, who has administrated the city’s Main Street program for 25 years and co-founded the annual Sights and Sounds of Christmas festival, is retiring.
The city announced Franks’ retirement last week.
The City of San Marcos, Texas Main Street Program and Downtown Association will honor Franks at a reception on Thursday at Café on the Square (3-5 p.m.). The public is invited.
The city has named Samantha Armbruster, owner of Social Media Sisters, to succeed Franks as the Main Street Manager. Armbruster began work last week to learn the ropes from Franks through the month.
San Marcos joined the Main Street program in 1986, then Franks began to run the local effort in 1988. The national program, which began in the 1970s, is administrated National Trust for Historic Preservation. The program provides technical expertise and consulting services for its member cities and urban neighborhoods.
The Main Street program in San Marcos encompasses a 24-block area around the city square. Though the odd vacancy still pops up on the square, the area now generally thrives day and night with restaurants, nightclubs, shops, government offices and professional services. When San Marcos joined the program, 15 vacant buildings sat on the city square, one of many downtown casualties nationally after the federal interstate system changed traffic patterns and businesses began setting up on the frontage roads.
“Kelly Franks has helped guide the downtown through a major transitional period over the past quarter century,” said Matthew Lewis, Director of Planning and Development for the City of San Marcos. “She has initiated wonderful special projects, aided building owners in the preservation of historic buildings, and been a strong advocate for local businesses.”
More than $56.5 million of public and private investment have gone into downtown San Marcos since the city joined the program in 1986. By the time the economy tanked in 2008, downtown San Marcos had a net gain of 188 business starts, expansions and relocations since 1984, adding 820 jobs to the Main Street district. The downtown area also added 74 housing units and 102 residents.
Main Street also has played central roles in bringing trail rides, Texas State special events, the Great North American Race of antique cars, the Texas Natural Festival and the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame, and Sights and Sounds of Christmas festival to downtown San Marcos.
Franks was designated in 2011 as one of the “Legends of San Marcos’ by the Heritage Association for her contributions to the Main Street Program and civic organizations.