Three universities. A population of 120,000 people. Three large public high schools. Yet, Abilene is developing like it is something much smaller or unworthy of restaurants that stay open past 10 p.m.
At least that’s what we’ve noticed here on the Hill.
While a slow revival has begun downtown with the likes of Abi Haus and Fat Boss’s Pub, prime real estate around campus remains unideal for college students. Not that it is unpleasant, but we don’t see the college crowd getting excited about the new Farmer’s Insurance agency that just moved in down the street from Bitsy’s Flower Shop, who has been looking to sell for more than a year now.
There’s a reason students congregate at Whataburger every night and weekend, and it’s not to hang out with the Greyhound gang that passes through like clockwork. It’s because it’s the only place open that doesn’t check IDs at the door.
Lack of things to do has been a classic complaint of ACU students then and now. This isn’t so much a reiteration of that as much as it is a new question. With development opportunities all over town, why doesn’t anyone want to move into our neighborhood?
For one, college students are an easy market to target. Slap a hip logo, some cool typography and maybe a punny name on a coffee cup and you’ve just stolen about a million Bean Bucks from the freshmen before curfew. Stay open late, and you’ve got yourself the half of the Whataburger crowd that only goes to socialize, anyway.
Alas, there is someone else who has probably had some of these same thoughts. Caleb Ensor, Abilene businessman, owns the empty gray house at the corner of Campus Court and North 22nd Street – right across from the new track and soccer field.
He said a coffee house at that location could help stimulate further retail near campus and provide a meeting place once the on-campus stadiums are complete for soccer, track and football.
“The thought that Campus Court could be so much more attractive and better served as a retail district started the idea,” Ensor said. “This would bring new businesses and fresh ideas to the area. It would also provide jobs for the students within walking distance and entertainment for all that live on and visit campus.”
We agree with Ensor. We just wonder why it’s taken so long for this conversation to happen. And maybe worse, how long it will take before we actually see caffeinated results popping up around the Hill.