Downtown Casper had a major growth spurt this year.
After years of planning and months of construction, hundreds gathered at the David Street Station in August to celebrate the public plaza’s official opening. Gov. Matt Mead spoke at the opening ceremony and said the complex is proof that when Casper “needs something done, it gets it done.”
The station offers an outdoor stage and recreational spaces, and is expected to expand to include a splash pad, restrooms and an observation deck.
“It’s everything I could have dreamed of and more,” Kevin Hawley, the CEO of the Downtown Development Authority, said at the ceremony.
City leaders hoped the plaza would create a livelier downtown atmosphere and spur economic growth. The plan appears to be working, as various new businesses recently popped up in the city’s center, including Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana, Urban Bottle and the Gaslight Social bar.
The co-owner of the Gaslight Social explained in August that the city’s downtown revitalization efforts were behind his decision to open a new business.
“I thought to myself ‘I’m going to be on the outside looking in,’” Matt Galloway said at the time. “I wanted to be part of this major movement.”
Patron Jennifer Mayer said last summer that the 11,000 square-foot bar — which offers arcade games, a lounge area and an outdoor space — was unlike any other in the city.
“It feels like you’re not even in Casper anymore,” she said, admiring the flickering lanterns and painted indoor columns.
The city was able to showcase all its new changes during the Wyoming Eclipse Festival, which brought tens of thousands of tourists to Casper. The four-day festival featured dozens of vendors, street performers, musicians and food trucks situated in the heart of downtown, and concluded with a free concert at the David Street Station.
Given that she only heard positive feedback about Casper from visitors, Mayor Kenyne Humphrey previously said she wouldn’t be surprised if the festival led to a permanent boost in tourism.
“We want them to come back,” she said. “The whole goal [of the festival was] to really showcase the city and what we can do and what we have here.”
Now that residents and visitors may be tempted to spend more time in the city’s center, officials also established plans to make one of downtown’s main roadways safer and more attractive.
Midwest Avenue will be getting a makeover in early 2018, Community Development Director Liz Becher previously told the Star-Tribune. The city will be adding street lights, widening the sidewalks and moving the electrical wiring underground.