Two Tyler businesses were recently honored by the Texas Downtown Association for their work in revitalizing downtown Tyler and adding to its economic growth.

At the end of October, Fitzpatrick Architects received the TDA’s 2020 best downtown partner award for a town over 50,000 in population, while the Plaza Tower received the people’s choice award for best economic game changer.

The downtown partner recognition honors a local private or civic organization that positively impacts the community or adds to revitalization in the city’s downtown or commercial district.

Main Street Director Amber Varona submitted the nominations for both Fitzpatrick Architects and Plaza Tower.

She also submitted Liberty Hall’s series, Liberty Live: Concerts from the Couch, for the resiliency award, which is a category honoring how businesses adjusted to COVID-19 closures. The series was named a finalist but it did not win an award.

“We are honored to have a great partner like Fitzpatrick Architects continuing to push the momentum forward for downtown,” Varona said. “They truly deserved this award and we are proud to be able to showcase and validate their ongoing efforts and dedication to our community.”

Steve Fitzpatrick, principal of Fitzpatrick Architects, said Varona nominated the business for its work to improve downtown Tyler.

The architecture firm has been a part of identifying buildings in need of improvement and working to complete those renovations, such as at the Plaza Tower, Bank of America lobby, People’s Petroleum Building and the Foundry Coffeehouse.

Fitzpatrick Architects is also working with Smith County to create plans for the eventual new courthouse.

He said by reusing older buildings the downtown area can be revitalized and then spur economic development.

Fitzpatrick called it amazing to receive the award from TDA.

“To think about all the great cities in Texas ... to think we got that is humbling and really remarkable,” he said.

He thanked Varona, the city of Tyler and Smith County for their support.

“We think it’s just actually the beginning, and there’s so many projects,” Fitzpatrick said, adding the firm staff is working hard to revitalize downtown and bring about economic development.

Plaza Tower received the people’s choice award for its category by receiving the most likes on the TDA’s Facebook page.

Tim Brookshire, Garnett Brookshire, and Andy Bergfeld own and manage the property. They’ve added retail establishments to the building over time, including Andy’s Frozen Custard, Cafe 1948 and True Vine Brewing.

“Any bit of recognition Plaza Tower can get that might entice someone to come check out all of the great things going on downtown is welcomed,” Bergfeld said. “We appreciate all of the people who voted for us and promise more exciting things are to come for downtown Tyler.”

Varona said the win by Plaza Tower shows how well the investment into the building has helped downtown.

“With Plaza Tower winning the people’s choice award for best economic game changer, it speaks volumes of the huge impact it has made on our downtown community as a whole,” Varona said. “We are beyond grateful for their hard work and vision for our beautiful downtown.”


I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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