Re-purposing the former King Chevrolet site for living and retail space, recruiting a small downtown grocery store and beautifying “gateway” entrances into downtown Tyler were among ideas discussed Wednesday at the Tyler 1st Steering Committee meeting.
“It would be great to see a new neighborhood spring up on that property,” committee member Gene Shull said, referring to the King Chevrolet site at the corner of Erwin Street and Bonner Avenue.
Shull, at the meeting at Rose Garden Center, also mentioned ideas for a mixed-use space, which could extend to Palace Avenue, which would include housing, banking, shops and a meeting place. A part of that space is now used for free downtown parking space while the city’s new $7 million parking garage is under construction. Construction already has begun on the 320-space garage, scheduled to open in March or April 2014.
“When the parking garage opens, there will be more opportunities for development,” Dist. 5 Councilman Mark Whatley said. Committee members said the King Chevrolet site would have to have its foundations removed before any re-purposing could be done on the site.
The downtown area encompasses about 400 acres from Palace Avenue to Beckham Avenue and from Front Street to Gentry Parkway, city officials said at the meeting.
The Tyler 1st Comprehensive Plan, formerly known as Tyler 21, was launched in 2007. The plan addresses issues such as downtown revitalization, historic preservation, parks and recreation, transportation and housing and neighborhoods.
The comprehensive plan is reviewed every five years and completely updated every 20 years. The steering committee had a kickoff meeting in January.
City planner Heather Nick will take the city’s citizen survey results and implementation ideas for the various issues before City Council members in May 2014. If the council adopts the Tyler 1st Comprehensive plan, those ideas from the different steering committee meetings will be put into action, Assistant City Manager Susan Guthrie said.
Steering committee members broke off into discussion groups, and each group generated ideas for downtown revitalization. Other ideas included creating a downtown walking tour of historic churches, improving pedestrian walkways and lighting, enhancing downtown signage, and creating more parks and open space.
“We could put in some parks and walking pathways on the King Chevrolet site to start,” Shull said.
Committee members also talked about bringing gospel and jazz festivals to the downtown area.
Tyler residents said in a 2012 online city survey that the revitalization of downtown has grown in importance to them since 2006, Ms. Guthrie said. In 2006, downtown revitalization was important to 79 percent of Tylerites, and by 2012, that number had grown to 88 percent, she said.