• October 21, 2014

Temple nurtures lofty ideas

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Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2013 4:30 am

TEMPLE — City officials and business leaders are constantly exploring new ways to revitalize downtown, and an interest in multiuse buildings there could provide a boost for the area.

In the Mood Ballroom owner Karen Gonzalez lives above the downtown business at 13 S. Main St. with her husband, Rudy. The couple bought the building in 1999 because they were able to renovate and use the 6,600-square-foot lower level as a dance studio, while living in the building’s spacious 6,600-square-foot upper level.

“There’s definitely advantages and disadvantages,” Gonzalez said about living and working in the same building. “But the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages. And you don’t have to commute.”

A possible spike in multiuse activity downtown could come from the renovation of the Hawn Hotel. The Temple City Council approved a letter of intent in September authorizing the hotel’s redevelopment. Criterion Management Group LLC will renovate the property, which will feature urban condominium units in its upper floors. The first floor of the Hawn Hotel’s main building will be developed as retail space, support services and a restaurant.

Additional retail downtown will draw significant activity, Gonzalez said.

“Eventually, we’ll have shops that will support more urban downtown living,” she said. “Downtown living is becoming popular with younger people. But you have to have reasons for people to come downtown. We have nothing to draw people.”

The addition of dress shops, men’s clothing stores and convenience stores are among the types of businesses that would benefit downtown, Gonzalez said.

The implementation of the city’s “quiet zones” to silence downtown train whistles also will benefit downtown development, Gonzalez said.

“When you’re trying to conduct business, it’s hard when the train whistle is in your ear,” she said. “I think there will be a big change when that is implemented.”

City Manager David Blackburn said developers have shown interest in creating multiuse venues.

“We’ve had more than one developer look at downtown specifically for that type of development,” he said. “We think there’s a market for that here.”

Multiuse facilities are usually zoned with careful planning, and downtown is an area conducive to that type of establishment.

“They’re not treated like a single-family residence,” Blackburn said.

“It’s mixed use. There could be different building codes or zones they can be in, with different regulations or rules applied to the developer because of that. It would not be unusual for them to be in a planned development area.”

Gonzalez owns a vacant building at 17 S. Main St. that she would like to develop as a mixed-use facility.

She said other developers will follow suit and create multiuse establishments as new businesses continue to launch downtown.

“In the coming years, we’ll see more of this,” she said. “We’ve been here 14 years, and we’ve seen some changes, but we need to see more. I think we’ll see it happen, it’s just taking longer for it to happen than we thought it would.”

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