Economic and Community Development

Game day parking doesn’t have to be a hassle

 

By Julie Caler, Code Enforcement Supervisor

Although we’re all glad football is back, COVID-19 restrictions will make for a completely different atmosphere around Aggie games.

One thing hasn’t changed, though.

With thousands of fans descending on Kyle Field, finding a place to park nearby will still be a daunting challenge, especially in the Southside neighborhood.

That’s why it’s vital that guests and residents abide city parking ordinances, which are designed to make our streets and neighborhoods safe. Emergency vehicles must respond if needed, and cars must be kept off yards to prevent fires, broken meters, broken gas lines, and other problems.

The College Station Police Department, Code Enforcement, and the Northgate District staff work together to ensure a safe environment on game day.

Street Parking

Many of the streets in the Southside area were developed decades years ago and are exceptionally narrow. Police officers will be looking for vehicles parked illegally, including those facing traffic, blocking fire hydrants, parking too close to stop signs, blocking intersections, and parking in no-parking zones, to name a few.

You also can’t directly block a driveway, but that doesn’t mean you can’t park across the street.

Some of these are violations of state law, and a few are towable offenses. If you are parked illegally in certain areas, your vehicle will likely be towed. If you discover your vehicle has been towed, call the Police Department’s non-emergency number at 979-764-3600.

Yard Parking

Code Enforcement Staff will be actively looking for vehicles parking in yards. We discourage residents from illegally selling parking spots on their property. If we find a vehicle parked in the yard, we issue a warning to the resident in person and with a letter. If it’s a rental property, we also inform the property owner and management company.

If the violation happens again on another game day, we may issue a citation or court summons for the property owner and resident.  If you have any questions about this or any other city ordinance, call Code Enforcement at 979-764-6363.

Northgate Parking

The Northgate District provides safe and affordable parking options, including the Northgate Parking Garage, which is just a short walk to Kyle Field. The special game day rate is $25. Parking in the garage means you don’t have to worry about parking in the wrong place or being towed.

We also have limited parking available on certain Northgate streets and in the surface parking lot. The game day rate for both options is $3.50 an hour and is applicable from 6 a.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday.

For more information about the Northgate Parking Garage, including the availability of parking spaces, call 979-764-6313. For general questions about parking or Code Enforcement, please feel free to contact me at 979-764-6363 or jcaler@cstx.gov.

Game Day Resources

Here are some maps and other information that we hope will move you around town as quickly as possible on Aggie game days:

Gig ‘em, Aggies!


0000018EPAbout the Blogger

Code Enforcement Supervisor Julie Caler has been with the City of College Station for two decades.


 

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Video: Small business bridge loan program

The City of College Station and the Bryan Business Council partnered with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments in April to create a Bridge Loan Program to assist small businesses that have seen a substantial reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Small businesses need short-term working capital to cover essential expenses such as payroll, rent, and utilities.

– Public Communications Office

 


$1.8 million in federal funds available for COVID-19 aid

By Debbie Eller, Director of Community Development

The City of College Station will make about $1.8 million in federal funds available for two grant programs aimed at helping College Station’s low-to-moderate income residents pay their rent and their employers keep them on the payroll.

Sources for the funding are the CARES Act, Community Development Block Grants, and the HOME Investment Partnership Program. Some of the funds are being re-purposed from previously planned programs. 

The City of College Station Community Development Division will process applications for assistance to residents and businesses affected by the outbreak. 

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance

The Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program uses $475,000 in HOME funds to provide rent assistance to qualifying households for up to three months. The households are eligible for up to $1,000 each month, including payment of unpaid rent for May.

Payments will be made directly to the landlord indicated on the lease, which must have started on or before March 1.  After completing an online eligibility application, grant recipients will be selected by a random drawing. If selected, recipients have one week to provide the necessary documentation. 

Applications will be available on cstx.gov, starting at 12:01 a.m. on June 1 and closing at 11:59 p.m. on June 7.

For more information, email us at RentAssistance@cstx.gov.

Economic Assistance Grant Program

The Economic Assistance Grant Program for small businesses opens the second round of applications today with about $500,000 in CDBG funds. The application deadline is noon on Friday, June 5. Up to $40,000 in community development grant funds will be available for small College Station businesses that will retain or create jobs for mostly low-to-moderate income residents.

The amount granted will be determined by the number of full-time equivalent employees who work each week (FTE=total number of hours worked during the week divided by 40). Businesses must provide proof they were impacted financially by COVID-19. They will also need to report for 60 days to demonstrate they meet the job retention or creation requirements.

For more information, email us at EconomicAssistance@cstx.gov.

Additional Assistance

Additional assistance will be provided to local agencies working to meet the needs of College Station residents. Previously, $30,000 in CDBG funds was provided to Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul to assist residents with rent and utility payments.

An additional $500,000 in CDBG Public Service Agency funding will be available to programs that address needs caused by COVID-19, including medical, food, rent, utilities, and other basic needs. A request for proposal will be released on Monday for agencies interested in addressing these coronavirus-caused needs. Specific Information will be released when programs have been selected for funding.

Community Development staff are available to provide technical assistance to residents or businesses interested in applying for aid. If you need help, call us at 979-764-3778. Similar programs are available for Bryan residents. For more information, go to bryantx.gov

We understand the community’s needs are high, and these resources will not be able to help everyone. Residents are encouraged to contact 2-1-1 for information regarding other available assistance.

  


About the Blogger

Community Services Coordinator Debbie Eller is in her 21st year with the City of College Station. She has led the Community Services Department since 2010. A native of Fort Worth, Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M in 1984.


 

 

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City seeks public input this week on COVID-19 relief

By Raney Whitwell, Community Development Analyst

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of College Station seeks citizen input this week on five potential Substantial Amendments to the city’s 2015-19 Consolidated Plan. The changes would allow the Community Services Department to more quickly and efficiently address local needs. 

The Substantial Amendments adhere to federal regulations related to citizen participation in community planning and development programs, along with applicable waivers through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

A virtual public hearing will be Thursday at 5 p.m. You can join the meeting online at zoom.us/i/2800371990 or by calling 1-888-475-4499 and entering number 280-037-1990. 

You can mail written comments (postmarked no later than Friday) to City of College Station Community Services, P. O. Box 9960, College Station, TX  77842, or email them to rwhitwell@cstx.gov. You can also call 979-764-3778 and leave a comment.                      

The amendments to the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan, Citizen Participation Plan, and 2019 Action Plan for federal funds are available for a five-day public review and comment period that ends Friday. Here’s the text for each amendment:

Substantial Amendments

SA No. 1: Revises the Citizen Participation Plan to include the use of virtual public meetings, clarifies the description of public hearings for the Consolidated Plan, and adds a section to address citizen participation during a disaster declaration.

SA No. 2: Revises the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan to include as a goal statement in the Disaster Response Plan, including policies and procedures to address local impacts of these disasters as allowed by HUD guidance, waivers, and streamlined regulations and the addition of Tenant-Based Rental Assistance as a project.

SA No. 3: Revises the 2019 Action Plan to enable the city to receive and administer $697,507 in Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funding from HUD, including $500,000 of CDBG-CV funds to public service agencies and $197,507 to economic development.

Eligible CDBG activities include assisting low- and moderate-income households with rental and utility assistance for up to three months, food assistance programs, business assistance to retain employees, and support of other COVID-19 response services, such as medical and health-related services. 

Those funds and additional CDBG funding that may be available through the CARES Act will be used for the same purposes of the initial allocations, which were intended to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.                       

SA No. 4: Reprograms $312,479 of FY 2019 CDBG funds from acquisition to economic development.

SA No. 5: Reprograms FY 2019 HOME funds from owner-occupied rehabilitation ($46,575), homebuyer assistance ($301,246), and from new construction ($152,677 ) to tenant-based rental assistance ($475,000) and tenant-based rental assistance security deposits ($25,498) in response to COVID-19 and though HOME waivers.

For more information, email me at rwhitwell@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Community Development Analyst Raney Whitwell is in her fifth year with the city. She’s also served in code enforcement and in the City Secretary’s Office. A native of Bremond, Raney earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Sam Houston State.


 

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Grant funds to help residents with household bills

By David Brower, Community Development Analyst

The City of College Station has selected Catholic Charities of Central Texas and the St. Vincent De Paul Society of B/CS to each receive $15,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to help College Station residents with their rent and utility bills.

The funds are estimated to help more than 140 income-eligible households.

If you need information and referrals to area resources, dial 2-1-1 for free assistance. Trained specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and services are available in more than 90 languages.

 


About the Blogger

David Brower has been a community development analyst for the City of College Station since he graduated from Texas A&M in 2008.


 


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Small business program helps retain 121 local jobs

By Debbie Eller, Director of Community Development

The City of College Station’s Economic Assistance Grant Program distributed $282,802 to 16 small businesses, 188 individuals, and 101 families (households of two or more people).

It also helped businesses retain 121 full-time equivalent positions.

Using CDBG Economic Development funds, the program was intended to help prevent job losses for employees with families in the low-to-moderate household income range. In the long term, the program may also contribute to job creation or enable businesses to reach their pre-disaster employment numbers.

Additional funding will be available in mid-May.

 


About the Blogger

Community Services Coordinator Debbie Eller is in her 21st year with the City of College Station. She has led the Community Services Department since 2010. A native of Fort Worth, Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M in 1984.


 

 

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Know your COVID-19 rent and mortgage options

By Debbie Eller, Director of Community Services

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused many College Station residents to lose their jobs or have their work hours reduced. For some, paying their rent or making mortgage payments may be a problem.

If the crisis continues for months, late fees and months of back payments could create additional burdens.

However, a delicate balance exists when considering tenant protections. Landlords have expenses that must be paid, and the lack of rent revenue severely affects their ability to stay in business. 

The situation calls for everyone to work together to find mutually beneficial solutions.

If you are unable to pay rent during the existing orders, talk to your landlord to find a reasonable solution. We also encourage you to call 2-1-1 to locate local assistance in addition to programs offered statewide.

Rent and utility assistance programs are available through local non-profit agencies such as The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and St. Vincent de Paul. Still, funds are running low due to the extreme need. The City of College Station is working to allocate additional funding through its Community Development Block Grant to programs that provide rent and utility assistance. 

If you are unable to pay your monthly mortgage, contact your mortgage holder. Options are available for distressed borrowers impacted by COVID-19, including short- and long-term forbearance options, mortgage modifications, and other mortgage payment relief options based on your circumstances.

The Supreme Court of Texas has banned evictions through June 1, and the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has placed a moratorium on evictions for residents of government-assisted housing until July 24. The Federal Housing Administration has also implemented a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single-family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages through May. 

Evictions are still allowed for posing an imminent threat of physical harm or engaging in criminal activity.

For more information, go to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website at  tdhca.state.tx.us/covid19.htm.

 


About the Blogger

Community Services Coordinator Debbie Eller is in her 21st year with the City of College Station. She has led the Community Services Department since 2010. A native of Fort Worth, Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M in 1984.


 

 

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City creates program to aid local small businesses

By Debbie Eller, Director of Community Development

While the COVID-19 outbreak has arrived with a high human cost, it’s increasingly evident that the economic impacts could be substantial as well. In response, the City of College Station has created an Economic Assistance Grant Program for our small businesses with low-to-moderate income employees.

The city council unanimously approved the program’s guidelines as part of a special Monday afternoon teleconference meeting.

Funded with almost $300,000 in CDBG Economic Development Funds, the program could help prevent job losses for employees with families in the low-to-moderate household income range, such as a family of four that earns under $54,800 a year. In the long term, the program could also contribute to job creation or enable businesses to reach their pre-disaster employment numbers.

Grants of up to $40,000 will be available, based on the number of employees. Businesses need to provide information regarding their business before and after implementation of the COVID-19 declarations, including financial documents, employee information, and their willingness to comply with local, state, and federal requirements. 

To apply, click the link below, register as a vendor, and download the required documents. After you log-in, click on Current Bids and the Eco Assistance Grant link, where you can upload the documents.

New applications are reviewed and funds awarded each week, and each entity may receive only one grant. We expect the requests to outpace the available funds.

Funds will be disbursed in four installments, with the first distributed after the agreement is executed. Subsequent payments will be made following the submission of payroll documentation showing that the funding has helped retained job funding. 

For more information, email me at deller@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Community Services Coordinator Debbie Eller is in her 21st year with the City of College Station. She has led the Community Services Department since 2010. A native of Fort Worth, Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M in 1984.


 

 

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All Up In Your Business: Dallis family / Burger Mojo

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

The Dallis family has operated some of the most iconic food and beverage destinations in College Station. Cafe Eccell may be their best-known restaurant, but they recently entered the highly competitive burger market through their new concept Burger Mojo.

In this episode, Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz and I talk to Costa and Andreas Dallis about their legacy of business ventures and how difficult it is to remain relevant in a fast-growing, student-driven community. They even explain why they believe a burger joint in close proximity to so many other burger joints has a solid chance.

Meanwhile, Natalie also discusses the importance of redeveloping older commercial areas in College Station, and how her office has seen early success and is continuing that focus.

All Up In Your Business is available via Podbean, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, and YouTube. Please subscribe, rate and recommend!

Have a suggestion for a future topic or interview, or just want to say hi? Send to jsocol@cstx.gov

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his 11th year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


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City seeks public input on uses for federal grants

By Raney Whitwell, Community Development Analyst

Each year, the City of College Station receives about $1.5 million in federal grants that benefit low- and moderate-income residents through nonprofit programs, economic development, and improved housing and infrastructure.

We need your help in determining how to use these funds in the best way to address our local needs. You can either take a short survey or attend a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, at the Lincoln Recreation Center.

The public hearing will include presentations about fair housing and the requirements for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Grant (HOME).

Public input will play an essential role in the 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan we’ll submit in August to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Consolidated Plan is a comprehensive planning and evaluation tool that guides priorities, goals, and strategies for the next five years.

You can also submit your feedback to the Community Services Department at 979-764-3778 or by emailing Community Services Director Debbie Eller at deller@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Community Development Analyst Raney Whitwell is in her fifth year with the city. She’s also served in code enforcement and in the City Secretary’s Office. A native of Bremond, Raney earned a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Sam Houston State.


 

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All Up In Your Business: Walk-On’s

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

Who better to open a Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux in College Station than a former walk-on to the Texas A&M football team? Cory (’08) and Jenny (’01) Davis are poised to open their business in south College Station — their first foray into the restaurant business — and talk about how College Station was the only city they ever considered for such a major endeavor.

Also in this episode, Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz and Communications Director Jay Socol talk about how the City of College Station sometimes spots opportunities to help new businesses or developers find just the right location for whatever they want to bring to the market.

Finally, Nat shares updated info on some additional restaurants under development in south College Station or, as Jay calls it, “SoCol.”

All Up In Your Business is now available via Podbean, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his 11th year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


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Podcast: College Station eco-devo 101

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

We hear it all the time: “Hey, College Station, how come you don’t bring a [fill in the blank] to town?”

The other side of that is, “Hey, bozos, why do you keep bringing more [fill in the blank] to our city?”

First, some of you have anger issues. Seriously, though, a lot of people don’t understand:

  • What the city can be credited for bringing to town.
  • What the city should not be credited/blamed for bringing to town.
  • What our economic development staff is actively recruiting to CS.

In this episode of AUIYB, Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz and I discuss all these points, as well as some things about Post Oak Mall you may not know. (cliffhanger!)

Subscribe to All Up In Your Business at your favorite podcast source — Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, or Podbean.

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is starting his 11th year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


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Game day parking doesn’t have to be a hassle

By Julie Caler, Code Enforcement Supervisor

For football fans, following their favorite team to Kyle Field can be tricky. With thousands of fans descending on a relatively small area, finding a place to park their vehicles can be daunting.

Visitors understandably want to park as close to the stadium as possible, and that creates challenges for our guests and residents, especially in the Southside neighborhood. Making sure everyone abides by our city parking ordinances is a significant test for city staff, too.

Our parking ordinances are designed to make our streets and neighborhoods safe. Emergency vehicles need to be able to respond if required, and cars must be kept off yards to prevent fires, broken meters, broken gas lines, and other problems. The College Station Police Department, Code Enforcement, and the Northgate District staff work together to ensure a safe environment for you on game day.

Street Parking

Many of the streets in the Southside area were developed years ago and are exceptionally narrow. Police officers will be looking for vehicles parked illegally, including those facing traffic, blocking fire hydrants, parking too close to stop signs, blocking intersections, and parking in no-parking zones, to name a few. You also can’t directly block a driveway, but that doesn’t mean you can’t park across the street.

Some of these are violations of state law, and a few are towable offenses. If you are parked illegally in certain areas, your vehicle will likely be towed. If you discover your vehicle has been towed, call the Police Department’s non-emergency number at 979-764-3600.

Yard Parking

Code Enforcement Staff will be actively looking for vehicles parking in yards. We discourage residents from illegally selling parking spots on their property. If we find a vehicle parked in the yard, we issue a warning to the resident in person and with a letter. If it’s a rental property, we also inform the property owner and management company.

If the violation happens again on another game day, we may issue a citation or court summons for the property owner and resident.  If you have any questions about this or any other city ordinance, call Code Enforcement at 979-764-6363.

Northgate Parking

The Northgate District provides safe and affordable parking options, including the Northgate Parking Garage, which is just a short walk to Kyle Field. The special game day rate is $25. Parking in the garage means you don’t have to worry about parking in the wrong place or being towed.

We also have limited parking available on certain Northgate streets and in the surface parking lot. The game day rate for both options is $3.50 an hour and is applicable from 6 a.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday.

For more information about the Northgate Parking Garage, including the availability of parking spaces, call 979-764-6313.

 

For general questions about parking or Code Enforcement, please feel free to contact me at 979-764-6363 or jcaler@cstx.gov.

Game Day Information

Here are some maps and other information that we hope will move you around town as quickly as possible on Aggie game days:

Gig ‘em, Aggies!

 


0000018EPAbout the Blogger

Code Enforcement Supervisor Julie Caler has been with the City of College Station for almost two decades.


 

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Podcast: Breakfast you’ll be la Gladeleine about

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

In this podcast episode, College Station Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz returns to talk about new restaurants, office space, commercial expansion and more. We also dive into an email from a pod listener (we have one!) who expressed concerns about what feels like constant expansion in College Station.

All Up In Your Business is now available via Podbean, Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his 10th year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


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Podcast: Culpeppers are legacy residential, retail developers who still have plans

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

If you’ve lived in College Station or Bryan more than a minute, then you probably know about the Culpepper family. If not, then you’re certainly living, shopping, dining or being entertained in spaces that were developed by the Culpeppers.

President/CEO of Culpepper Realty Co. Jack Culpepper and General Counsel Larry Haskins talked to me about the beginnings of the family business, its early successes throughout the twin cities (and beyond) — and even gave some hints about their next redevelopment moves on property just across from Texas A&M. Hint: Think of the space where IHOP, Schlotzsky’s and Hurricane Harry’s are located — across from Century Square.

There’s great insight from a family that’s already invested in College Station for nine decades, with its fourth generation already working on the next big announcement.

All Up In Your Business is now available via Podbean, Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his 10th year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


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Podcast: Real talk about Gringo’s and Buc-ee’s

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

College Station Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz and I had a jaunty (thanks, thesaurus!) podcast discussion this week about some businesses either recently on the ground or that we at least have a really good shot at.

But we also talked about one that appeared to be a sure thing until it wasn’t: Gringo’s.

Others topics we cover:

  • How genuine the interest is from Buc-ee’s in a College Station location vs. Nat’s own wishful thinking?
  • Why does it matter so much that the extensions to Lakeway Drive and Pebble Creek Parkway are now open? (Hint: Midtown)

For those brave enough to sample the video version of this episode, we apologize profusely for obscuring Nat’s face with the new microphone. A partial Nat eclipse is definitely visible to the naked eye.

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his 10th year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


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Podcast: How Krispy Kreme finally came to town

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

Like BBQ, burgers, tacos — or any other food type you can think of — donuts are a pretty personal thing for people. College Station has a variety of options, all with loyal followings.

But long-suffering fans of Krispy Kreme can finally rejoice: The red light of happiness is in Aggieland.

Franchisee Brian Davis doesn’t have the typical connection with College Station or with Texas A&M University. He talked to us about why he chose College Station, why the Harvey Road location was actually his second choice, how it takes nearly 100 people to operate a single location, and how he plans on giving back to a community that he’s only spent limited time in.

Enjoy this first episode of All Up In Your Business!


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his 10th year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


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Podcast: Is This a Thing? (Episode 10)

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

In this episode of “Is This A Thing?” we share Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz’s recent presentation to the Economic Outlook Conference, which recapped market trends and successes from 2018, along with a look ahead through 2019 and into 2020.

Natalie then took a deeper dive into the city’s emerging Midtown Business Park and why that entire area of College Station is so important to the city’s future. (more…)


Small Business Saturday focuses on entrepreneurship

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

When our family’s business closed its doors in 1987, it ended more than six decades of serving families in our small, West Texas town — and families in many of the towns around it.

So, maybe it’s in my DNA to shop and dine at mom-and-pop establishments — even when online or big-brand storefronts might save me a few bucks.

That’s what Small Business Saturday (Nov. 24) is all about. While we appreciate all the businesses that operate in College Station, Small Business Saturday allows us to place additional focus on the entrepreneurs who took tremendous personal risks to invest here and compete in an incredibly tough retail, dining and services landscape.

If you happen to own one of these small businesses, let us hear from you in the days leading up to Small Business Saturday by tweeting at us (@CityofCS) with your business name and what it offers. Be sure to include the hashtag #ShopSmallCS.

Including small businesses, like the one my family operated for 60+ years, in your shopping and dining habits is a great way to support our community. And there’s no better time to start than after Black Friday (Nov. 23) and before Cyber Monday (Nov. 26).

Thank you, small businesses, for investing in us. Let’s all commit to investing more in you.

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his 10th year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


 

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Is This A Thing? Live from The Stella Hotel

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

This episode of “Is This a Thing?” was taped Sept. 17 in front of a live audience and featured College Station Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz, Bryan Economic Development Manager Todd McDaniel, and Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation Chair-Elect Bobby Gutierrez.

Total run time: 50:31

  • 00:00 — Message to live audience.
  • 01:05 — Show open and introductions.
  • 03:06 — Ruiz on whether or not the time of year affects the ability to succeed at economic development.
  • 05:15 — McDaniel on how Bryan is prepared to tackle the redevelopment of Texas Avenue between Villa Maria Road and downtown.
  • 08:56 — Gutierrez on what the EDC’s role is in complementing the work performed by College Station and Bryan.
  • 12:28 — Ruiz on the importance of sales tax revenues and how online and brick-and-mortar retailers are joining forces.
  • 16:30 — McDaniel on the changes we can expect in the proximity of the future super park development at the former Bryan Golf Course site.
  • 20:35 — Gutierrez offers to answer the question McDaniel was asked about the super park area.
  • 24:33 — McDaniel on what BCS needs to attract more jobs and industry.
  • 26:00 — Ruiz adds to the perspective.
  • 26:51 — Gutierrez chimes in on the same topic.
  • 29:12 — Gutierrez answers an audience question: What types of industry are you trying to recruit?
  • 31:14 — Ruiz answers an audience question: What’s being done about the ever-emerging multifamily developments?
  • 33:08 — Gutierrez answers from a Bryan Planning & Zoning Commission perspective.
  • 35:01 — McDaniel adds perspective from a City of Bryan standpoint.
  • 36:35 — Audience question: Gutierrez talks about addressing growth and needs in surrounding communities.
  • 39:36 — Audience question: How do nonprofits fit into your planning and economic development work?
  • 41:07 — Gutierrez addresses how nonprofits fit into that work.
  • 44:03 — Audience question: Plans for Highway 6?
  • 45:33 — Natalie adds the College Station perspective on Highway 6.
  • 46:54 — Gutierrez gives Bryan P&Z perspective on development along major corridors.
  • 49:48 — Show wrap-up.

 

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his 10th year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


 

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SeeClickFix remains a valuable reporting tool

By Julie Caler, Code Enforcement Supervisor

See. Click. Fix.

It’s as easy as that for citizens to report code enforcement, public works, and other non-emergency issues to the City of College Station.

The online application allows anyone with internet access to report and easily track updates to their concerns.  It empowers you and your local government to take care of and improve our neighborhoods in a tangible and meaningful way.

SeeClickFix can be accessed through desktop computers, smartphones or other mobile devices. Better yet, it’s simple to use and creates a higher level of accountability through timely communication between you and your city.

How do you use it?

The most popular way to use SeeClickFix is with a smartphone or tablet. Mobile devices make it easy to take and submit photos, which help city staff quickly identify problems and determine how to resolve them as efficiently as possible. Go to your device’s app store for a free download. The system can also be accessed through the city’s mobile-friendly website.

Pinning or entering an exact address will help staff locate and resolve the issue in a timelier manner.  Remember, pictures say a thousand words so whenever possible, please provide a picture of your concern.  If you have specific questions, call Code Enforcement at 979-764-6363, and we will be happy to answer your questions.

In addition, problems phoned into Code Enforcement are entered into SeeClickFix, which allows us to count the numbers and types of reported cases accurately.

How does it work?

SeeClickFix incorporates code enforcement, public works, parks and even outside agencies such as the Texas Department of Transportation to address the issues you report. While code enforcement is the clearinghouse for SeeClickFix, we ensure the proper agency addresses your specific issue.

Sometimes we receive updates, and sometimes we don’t.  But we can always provide you with direct contact information if you have specific questions for that agency.

SeeClickFix is not a social media site but an online reporting work order system. That means posting personal information or vulgar or inappropriate language will cause your post to be flagged and removed.

Who responds and how?

The type of concern reported determines who responds. While most issues are directed to code enforcement, not all issues are code related. Most potholes, street lights/sign issues are sent to either Public Works or TxDOT, depending on the location. Issues concerning parks are sent to the Parks and Recreation Department and so on.

Each agency has procedures for responding to concerns on SCF, and while we may get updates from some agencies, we don’t get updates from them all.

Code Enforcement will respond to issues that are possible code violations. An officer will investigate, and if a violation is found, the officer will proceed with a code case in our tracking system.

Some cases take longer than others to resolve, such as junk vehicles or weeds and grass, but a typical case is resolved within 10 days.

SeeClickFix isn’t 911

SeeClickFix isn’t monitored 24/7, so don’t report public safety concerns such as suspicious persons, robberies, threats to life, etc. on. Always call 911 when a real emergency exists.

SeeClickFix has proven to be a valuable tool for our citizens and has helped the city become more efficient and effective at resolving everyday issues. We hope you will continue to use it when you see something that needs to be addressed.

Just go to seeclickfix.com/college-station to report an issue.

Keep seeing and clicking, and we’ll keep fixing!

 


0000018EPAbout the Blogger

Code Enforcement Supervisor Julie Caler has been with the City of College Station for almost two decades.


 

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Is This A Thing? Krispy Kreme, Lululemon and Spice World

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

Episode 8 of “Is This A Thing?” finds College Station Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz talking about the status of some restaurants and businesses you’ve been hearing about for a while, plus new trends that are showing interest in College Station, such as “entertainment uses.”

Total run time: 32:22

  • 00:00 — Open.
  • 00:57 — University Town Center: Lots of interest, looking for an anchor.
  • 02:34 — Chimney Hill: Republic/Primrose Path, drive-thru Starbucks, hotel, restaurant.
  • 05:18 — Century Square: Lululemon, Clean Juice and more on the way.
  • 08:38 — Northgate: Stunning number of new beds, commercial demands, food trucks.
  • 13:05 — Texas Avenue activity
  • 13:43 — Harvey Road update: Krispy Kreme IS A THING.
  • 15:12 — What does old Toys R Us location lend itself to?
  • 16:44 — Jones Crossing + H-E-B.
  • 17:47 — City View Southwest at SH40/Barron Road.
  • 19:24 — CapRock + Tower Point: What’s working, what’s coming?
  • 20:52 — The Yard (sounds kinda cool).
  • 21:39 — Gringo’s is STILL A THING + Walk-Ons and Starbucks.
  • 22:56 — Highway-6: Stella Restaurant, BV Autoplex, At Home (opening soon!).
  • 24:14 — More interest in entertainment, such as bowling/games, rock climbing.
  • 26:40 — What it was learned at the largest retail conference in the U.S.
  • 31:10 — Next time + show close.

 

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his ninth year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


 

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Podcast: Jones Crossing H-E-B built for technology – and pizza

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

H-E-B‘s newest store in College Station is set to open Sept. 12, and there will be striking differences when compared to locations at Holleman Drive and at Tower Point.

In this edition of the podcast, H-E-B Area Community Coordinator Diane Besosa talks about everything from app-based shopping/checkout to the restaurant that will be located inside.

Total run time: 23:30

  • 00:00 — The Name Game, what exactly Diane does for H-E-B.
  • 02:25 — A typical day for an H-E-B area coordinator is …
  • 03:30 — What’s the strategy for the new store?
  • 04:53 — There really is a difference in the way each store location is stocked.
  • 05:17 — Let’s talk about how the Jones Crossing store will be unique.
  • 05:41 — Coming: A new app, HEB60, that puts the shopping/payment power in your hand.
  • 08:03 — Full-service restaurant to be located in-store: SoFlo
  • 09:20 — This store will have full buildout for curbside service.
  • 10:32 — Next-level floral presence + delivery.
  • 14:48 — Anxious ahead of opening? State of the store right now?
  • 19:02 — How do BCS shoppers behave differently than in other parts of Houston market?

 

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his ninth year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


 

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Podcast: Is This A Thing? How the At Home deal was sealed (Episode 7)

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

Home decor superstore At Home has announced it will occupy the property that was formerly Gander Mountain on Earl Rudder Freeway in College Station. That’s great news for consumers, but also for those in the economic development business since empty box stores along a major highway is not the image you prefer.

On this edition of Is This A Thing?, College Station’s Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz and Oldham Goodwin Group EVP Clint Oldham talk about how the At Home deal came about, how fragile this deal – and all eco-devo deals, to be honest – really was, and how retail attitudes are no longer cowering from The Amazon Effect.

Total run time: 15:46

  • 00:00 – Show Open
  • 01:20 — Conversation started last summer when Gander Mountain was rumored to close.
  • 02:28 — What happened when CS initially reached out to At Home.
  • 03:40 — Some expansion of this facility will need to happen.
  • 04:30 — When Oldham Goodwin engaged Gander Mountain ownership.
  • 05:25 — Among the challenges of that property.
  • 07:07 — Among the positives of this location.
  • 08:33 — The effectiveness of a CS-OGG partnership to make the deal happen.
  • 09:35 — What people don’t see: How close deals are to NOT happening.
  • 10:50 — Other areas in College Station where OGG is working.
  • 11:30 — Could’ve announced this sooner, but didn’t want to jinx the deal!
  • 12:38 — Conditions this year feel different regarding which retailers are ready to expand.
  • 13:33 — Amazon Effect not as smothering; brick and mortar still matter.
  • 14:30 — Guesses on when At Home will be ready to open? (Spoiler: Nope)

 

Related Links:

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his ninth year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


 

If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!