Cove Herald/MASON W. CANALES - Jack Smith, an associate broker at Donlie McMullin Real Estate Services, admires the original wood rafters of a building being remodeled for Gene Dane & Associates, an architect firm that is relocating to downtown Copperas Cove. The firm will lease the space from Donlie McMullin.

By Audrey Spencer

The Cove Herald

Electric screwdrivers whine in the back doorway as workers revitalize the business space at 109 W. Avenue D, just to the east of the Cove Theater.

Gene Dane will open the fourth office of EV Studios, an architect company, in the downtown location.

"We didn't make the move as a way to increase business," said Dane. "I'm a Copperas Cove native, and I'm very interested in trying to get our downtown area rejuvenated."

Space improvements started in September and are expected to be complete by mid-to-late February on the architect's office, which will serve clients throughout the area, state and even in other states. The company's other three offices are in Colorado.

Jack Smith, who owns five of the nine properties on the Avenue D strip, is slowly developing the downtown area using as a base an improvement project abandoned by the city years ago.

"They had redevelopment plans several years ago that never went anywhere," said Smith. "There will be less traffic with the bypass, and then it will be a good time to look at making the area more pedestrian-friendly."

The master plans, compiled by Schrickel, Rollins and Associates Inc., were presented four years ago and included ideas to give the downtown area a more distinct identity and improve its visual character and the pedestrian environment. However, the city didn't have enough funding to put the plans in action.

"They weren't able to implement the plan to its fullest capacity," said Monica Hull, director of business development at the Economic Development Corporation. "Improvements in the downtown area do use the plan as a guide though."

Everything from colors scheme and materials to trash cans and tree grates were outlined in the master plans, which Smith is now using as a guideline.

"With the traffic on Avenue D, it's not a great thing," he said about increasing pedestrian appeal along the road. "But after the bypass opens, traffic will slow down."

Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Polo Enriquez said the new businesses brings more people to the city and helps the local economy.

"Every new business that opens up generates sales tax that will benefit the city," he said. "And the more business we have, the more employment opportunities there are in the city."

The fact that people are willing to put private money into a project, such as opening a business, said Enriquez, shows faith in the future.

"It's a reflection of the optimistic outlook a lot of people in Copperas Cove have about the economy," he said.

Despite economic challenges, Coveites continue to work for the improvement of the city.

"For me, it's been a great opportunity to be able to come back to the town I grew up in and contribute to the betterment of my community," said Dane about establishing EV Studios in the city.

Contact Audrey Spencer at or (254) 501-7476.

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