Next year could be significant as the first projects outlined in Edinburg’s downtown revitalization master plan get underway, according to city officials.

Council members set in motion, three key areas of the master plan at their regular meeting on Nov. 16. The first included a presentation by city staff of planned streetscape improvements to McIntyre Street before a request for qualifications (RFQ) is sent to solicit engineers and architects to design the portion of road going one way from 10th street to 4th Street.

The first portion to be constructed will be the east side of McIntyre, which encompasses the fire station as well as City Hall. The City plans to include paved cobblestone streets, as well as a walking path on both sides of the street, sidewalks, and a 24-foot wide road.

The next section to be constructed would be the west side from City Hall to UTPA, which would include paved alley sections to allow residents into their properties and eliminate cars on the street. Sixth street would be closed off to traffic to allow a walking corridor to the university.

“We’re right on schedule, and it’s going to happen,” said city manager Ramiro Garza. “Different areas of the downtown plan need to be addressed, (and) McIntyre is the first one. We did not want to make any improvements without getting the information we needed. We have been dealing with the county or school district or university before we even finalize a set of plans on the construction. We need to do it right.”

The City Council also approved two additional downtown items on their agenda. Additional seating for the City Auditorium was approved, as were the form based codes to determine the look and structure of future businesses in the downtown area.

The codes seek to change business facades by making them look more in line with the “historical character” of Edinburg, officials say.

“The idea is to begin to improve the downtown area, both within the public and private sector, in order to make it more attractive for people coming into Edinburg,” said Juan Lopez, director of planning and zoning. “Having the codes, then we would provide guidelines for the (new) business owner or property owner who wants to go in there. We want to enhance, we want to improve, we want to attract people, and we want to make downtown the heart of the city.”

No specific aesthetic for new businesses has been determined, as P&Z will be working with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation to develop the codes over the coming months.

“One, is getting our auditorium, back to its original use as a fine arts facility,” city manager Garza said about immediate improvements the public will notice in 2011. “We are going to see construction starting of Mcintyre (and) along with that construction we are promoting the downtown for business interests.

“We are in negotiation with the (school) district for the Sam Houston facility as a cultural arts center (and) in 2011 we hope to finalize that to design what its full use could be,” Garza said.