The piercing scrape of a circular saw cutting through a steel beam causes Mike Austin, co-owner of Christell’s Flowers in downtown Killeen, to cover his ears.
“The sound of progress,” Austin said. “A little too loud for me right now. ... Let’s go inside.”
Austin is one of many downtown business owners taking advantage of the city’s $5.8 million downtown streetscaping project, which will add new streets and sidewalks between Avenue D and C from Fourth to Eighth streets. The city’s project, which began in August, is estimated to be complete in early 2014.
Pavement is expected to return in the fall, said George Lueck, city director of transportation.
Expanding flower shop on Avenue B
During a small-business tour with the Killeen City Council and media this week, Austin showcased his project to expand his flower shop on Avenue B to a new property on Gray Street.
The new building, facing Gray Street between Avenue B and C, will soon house a small cafe and wine bar and railroad-themed reception area with an outdoor courtyard for weddings.
“It is really great to come downtown every day and see construction,” Austin said. “It took a long time but now things are moving in the right direction.”
New wine bar on Avenue D
Less than two blocks away on Avenue D, Chiun Chi, co-owner of Tank’s Pub, is adding the finishing touches to his new business, Tyku Wine Bar, which he plans to open in the fall.
With a second-floor patio, fire and water features and an exotic drink menu, the venue is poised to become Killeen’s first upscale lounge in the downtown area in a long time.
“We want to get a jump start on it,” Chi said. “I hope in five to 10 years, downtown Killeen can look like a downtown in a big city.”
Chi, who has lived in Killeen for 30 years, said he has no intention of leaving.
“We’ve seen downtown deteriorate over the years,” Chi said. “Part of your responsibility as a member in the community is to improve it.”
Solution one invested thousands
Solution One Industries invested thousands since the federal contract business, which operates in 13 different states, chose to set up shop in downtown Killeen.
In 2010 the company renovated an entire downtown city block on Gray Street to plant its headquarters, with the hopes the city and other businesses would follow suit.
“Downtown is the heart of any city and the first place our clients want to go,” McLaurin said.
“How can you change the stigma of (downtown) as a crime-ridden area if you are not willing to say, ‘Hey, we’re more than that.’”