Open to the public beginning Saturday, February 15
AUSTIN, TX - East César Chávez District, known as "the heart of the east side," now has more heart than ever. The business district will unveil new outdoor structures on Valentine’s Day weekend. “Hearts of the East Side” includes 11 heart-shaped creative installations spread throughout the East César Chávez Business District. These installations serve to honor the community, which is home to rich cultural heritage and strong entrepreneurial spirit.
The creative installations, designed and fabricated by local artists and fabricators, were commissioned by the East César Chávez Merchants Association. The project was made possible through private investment from businesses and property owners for an agreement on maintenance and care, plus seed funding from the City of Austin Economic Development Department.
"The East César Chávez District Board is very proud of what we have been able to accomplish with this project,” says Board Member, Brandon Testa. “The mission of the East César Chávez District is to create a walkable district that honors the artistic character of the street. This creative installation is a great example of what can be accomplished when the community works together on a goal. By creating a walking tour of art installations, we hope to get people out of their cars and walking on East César Chávez to experience the amazing culture, art, and small businesses that our street has to share."
The East César Chávez business owners began working with the City of Austin Economic Development Department through the Souly Austin program in 2016. Souly Austin is a place-based economic development program in which participating business owners are given a flexible set of tools to assist in the formation of merchants associations and the organization of commercial districts.
With a mission to build a strong, inclusive network of communication and growth between all businesses in East César Chávez, the merchants association formed in 2018 as an anchor organization of the district. Participating businesses noted that the greatest assets of the district are the deeply rooted cultural history and the investment from the community and businesses.
“Districts like the East Cesar Chavez District are important because the businesses cultivate economic growth in local neighborhoods throughout Austin,” notes Veronica Briseño, Director of the Economic Development Department. “The inclusion of visual art creates a sense of place which attracts people to the uniqueness of the community.”
Souly Austin support allows districts to develop placemaking projects that positively impact the economic vitality of businesses within the commercial area. During a robust community process, businesses identified the desire to increase the awareness of the East César Chávez District, and to build a stronger awareness of the area as a local hub for arts, heritage and commerce. Business owner interests garnered support for these creative installations, and generated excitement among the association members.
To celebrate the creative installations, the East César Chávez Merchants Association invites you to “Hearts of the East Side” on Saturday, February 15th beginning at 11am for a day of district-wide holiday specials, highlighted by a guided walking tour of the installations.
About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd and follow @econvitalityatx on Twitter.
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