Consultant: Temple needs more hotels
Mall redevelopment, boosting sports tourism and two Downtown hotels are included in "Placemaking Strategy"
Under a recommendation presented to City Council this week, Temple’s historic Santa Fe Depot — home to Amtrak and the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum — would be converted into a 20-room boutique hotel. The Santa Fe plan is a small part of a massive “Placemaking Strategy” presented by consultants to help the city increase tourism dollars. David Stone photo
DAVID STONE | JULY 8, 2022
A presentation made to City Council on Thursday calls for creating a full-service conference center hotel in Downtown Temple and renovating the Santa Fe Depot into a 20-room boutique hotel.
The Santa Fe plan would convert the existing Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum into hotel space and convert old rail cars into additional guest rooms, according to Rob Hunden, president and CEO of Hunden Strategic Partners, one of three consulting firms hired by the city to develop a “Placemaking Strategy.”
“A Santa Fe Depot boutique hotel would be a cool Downtown icon,” he said. “The upstairs could be rooms and the bottom floor could be converted into an events venue.”
Hunden did not say where the museum would be located after the depot renovation.
Erin Smith, assistant Temple city manager, said Hunden has worked with two other engineering and consulting firms — KPA and Covey Planning & Landscape — to develop a Placemaking Strategy that provides recommendations to the city on a five-year time frame for implementation.
“The Placemaking Strategy is a document that informs and guides the city of Temple to better capitalize on tourism,” Smith said. “The plan is meant to be a big-picture outlook.”
“If the city decides to proceed with the recommendations provided in the Placemaking Strategy, additional analysis will be completed to determine feasible locations for a convention center hotel and the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum,” she added. “No decisions have been made at this point.”
In addition to the two Downtown hotels, Hunden’s presentation also recommends enlarging the Mayborn Center and adding a ballroom and a small hotel; building a 70-room boutique hotel with either a brewery or distillery at Bend of the River; building a small extended-stay hotel in north Temple; and possibly locating another hotel on redeveloped Temple Mall property.
“Temple finds itself in the path of growth, and that provides the opportunity to execute an updated vision of who Temple is and what it wants to be,” Hunden said.
Hunden did not provide a recommended location for the Downtown conference center and hotel at Thursday’s meeting, but he did list the facility as a “priority Temple should pursue.”
“A lot of development has taken place Downtown, but there’s a lot more that could be done,” he said. “This is a big opportunity to create something special. Downtown Temple would be huge with a conference center hotel and more development.”
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The Placemaking Strategy presented to Temple City Council on Thursday also recommends locating a full-service conference hotel in Downtown Temple. A specific location was not mentioned. David Stone photo
Hunden said if the big Downtown hotel was built, there would be no need for another large hotel at the Mayborn Center.
“A smaller hotel would work fine at the Mayborn Center, but it should have convention capabilities,” he said. “We also recommend that the Mayborn Center adds a ballroom, hires a catering manager and upgrades the video and audio system to get rid of that ‘bouncy’ sound.”
“A second northside hotel, not as far north as the Mayborn Center, could also be beneficial to Temple,” he said. “It could be more of an extended-stay hotel on the edge of the neighborhoods.”
Hunden said the Bend of the River would provide an ideal setting for a “funky adult-oriented hotel and music venue.”
“A large outdoor music venue linked to the hotel and either a large brewery or distillery would create an entertainment Mecca for visitors and local residents,” Hunden said. “It could really be something different — something identifiable with Temple.”
Hunden’s presentation touched on far more than the creation of new hotels. The Chicago-based consultant also urged City Council to vigorously pursue sports tourism by expanding Crossroads Park.
Currently, Crossroads Park includes four baseball fields, four softball fields, seven soccer fields, a multi-use field, six tennis courts, a 27-hole disc golf course, a playground and 1.4 miles of trails within the park.
Hunden’s proposal calls for doubling the number of baseball diamonds to eight, adding two additional softball diamonds and building a multi-court indoor basketball complex.
The city hosts numerous athletic tournaments for participants of all ages, and these events bring in big tourism dollars. For example, a soccer tournament held May 7-8 at Crossroads Park had a direct economic impact of $252,000, according to the city.
Hunden also said Temple should consider building a water-oriented resort in the future.
One of the biggest recommendations Hunden made Thursday is the redevelopment of the Temple Mall, a move he said would be easier if the city purchased that property.
“Temple Mall needs a complete overhaul and could become a high-end mixed-use project,” Hunden said. “It would be a massive redevelopment. There is a market there with a lot of opportunities. It would include residential, office space, retail, entertainment. Temple needs to engage in a process to help attract people to that area.”
Hunden said the Mall area would also be an ideal space for a large indoor venue.
“It could be something different from the Bell County Expo — something unique,” he said.
“That area is prime for redevelopment but not in the same tired old Mall,” Hunden said. “It could become a lifestyle district with chef-driven and upscale restaurants, an extended-stay hotel and a large music venue.”
Smith said the city has no plans to purchase the mall property at this time.
“We have provided the analysis and recommendations to the current Mall owner,” she said.
Hunden also recommends renovations to Temple’s other big depot — The Katy.
“The cost of renovating The Katy Depot wouldn’t be extreme,” he said. “Again, there’s a lot of opportunity there. Ideally, the nearby BJ’s Taproom could expand there and have an awesome indoor/outdoor presence. Another brewery or an ice cream parlor with a railroad feel also could offer a unique experience.”
While Hunden recommended six new hotels — two Downtown, two on the north side, one at Bend of the River and one on redeveloped mall property — he did recommend against building another hotel that has been considered.
“I don’t think a hotel at or near the Temple airport would make sense right now,” Hunden said. “Maybe it will work in the future.”
Hunden also recommended against a large grocery store on Temple’s east side.
He said the east side neighborhoods are currently served by Supermercado Guanjuanto (La Michoacana Meat Market), a chain of Hispanic grocery stores located across Texas. The store has a wide selection of fresh meats, produce, packaged goods and an in-store taqueria.
In addition to Supermercado Guanjuanto, there are two independent meat markets and a Dollar General in or near Temple’s east side.
The Hunden report also said the Adams Avenue H-E-B is only 2.5 miles from the east side neighborhoods, and grocers typically view a 3-mile radius as their customer base.
Aldi, the South Temple H-E-B, Walmart and Sams are at or just under four miles from East Temple’s Ferguson Park and Crestview neighborhoods.
A report made by Hunden said: “A grocery store is currently not feasible on the east side of Temple” because the populations and median household incomes are too low and because the 3-mile trade area of existing grocery stores has “significant overlap.”
When Temple was formed in 1881, it was a bald prairie town with very few trees. When W. Goodrich Jones — a banker who was involved in many beautification projects — arrived, he decided to plant trees throughout the new city,
Since hackberries were readily available along the banks of the Leon River, and because they grow at an impressive rate of speed, Jones dug up small trees, hauled them to Temple, and sold the trees for 50 cents each. That price included delivery and planting.
Because Temple’s new homeowners wanted shade from the intense Texas sun, Jones literally sold thousands of trees. Most homeowners bought several. They were planted everywhere, and they grew like … well, hackberries.
So successful was Temple’s tree-planting project that residents began sharing the tale with friends across the state.
In 1899, a group of Temple residents led by Jones successfully petitioned the state Legislature to establish Texas Arbor Day. The special day for planting trees is still observed throughout Texas on Feb. 22 each year.
Around Town: The Harvey House exhibit
The Temple Railroad & History Museum features many exhibits of Temple history, like this recreated dining area from the Harvey House, a restaurant and hotel that catered to the needs of railroad travelers.
Between 1899 and 1936, tens of thousands of railroad travelers passed through Temple, and many stopped for a meal or an overnight stay at the Harvey House Restaurant & Hotel.
In the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th, weary rail passengers traveling through America’s southwest needed dining options and places to spend the night. According to Craig Ordner, archivist and rail historian for the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum, those needs were met by Fred Harvey.
“Most trains around the turn of the 20th century didn’t have dining cars,” Ordner said. “Trains would stop at different places along the routes, but usually the food wasn’t very good. Fred Harvey recognized the need for quality food and bedding, and he reached a deal with railroad companies to provide the needed services.”
The Temple Harvey House was built just east of the old Santa Fe Depot. It was a massive two-story frame building that housed a popular restaurant, a hotel and lodging for the famed Harvey Girls. Originally, Fred Harvey had staffed his businesses with men, but after a few alcohol-induced fist fights, he made a change.
“He hired women,” Ordner said, “and they were held to high standards.”
— Text and photo by David Stone
Today’s best bets
Family Fun Day at the Cultural Activities Center. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free movies and popcorn. Wall-E (Rated G) at 10 a.m. and Ron’s Gone Wrong (Rated PG) at 2 p.m. Tour remodeled art galleries. Frosti Cones will be selling sno cones and High 5 Hot Dogs will have a $5 lunch special. Fun activities. Bring glass to recycle and learn about the benefits of recycling.
Brad Honeycutt live at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m. Tickets: bosbarndancehall.com
Summer Sounds Free Concert Series at the Sam Farrow Amphitheater at Lions Park. Brazos Brothers. 7:30 p.m.
Sweatin’ With The Oldies at Sammons Community Center. 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Join Kathy Patterson as she leads these extremely popular exercise sessions designed especially for those with mobility issues or who have difficulty standing while exercising. Slow stretches and comfortable balance exercises, while seated or in contact with a chair, will help tone and strengthen muscles to increase mobility and flexibility. Gradual use of hand weights and stretch bands is also incorporated. Easily adaptable for those with physical limitations. Two convenient session times to choose from. For more information, call 254.298.5403
Ghost Hunting Class at Wilson Recreation Center. Do you have an interest in the paranormal? Ever wonder what it's like to be a real ghost hunter? Try our Paranormal Studies class with paranormal investigator JohnJohn from Dark Explorers paranormal and learn all there is about becoming a paranormal investigator. Join us for this introductory class. 5:30 p.m. to. 7 p.m. $35 per person.
Lady in the Men’s Room live at Barrow Brewing Co. 8 p.m.
30th annual Seaton Star Hall BBQ Cookoff. 6 p.m. July 8, 4 p.m. July 9.
Beth Lee & The Breakups live at Fire Street Pizza in Belton. 6 p.m. Based out of Austin, TX, Beth Lee grew up on the grit and soul of the Houston music scene, her dad a long time musician of the Bayou City. Since 2008, Beth has been playing live and recording her original music with Austin musicians that have an ear for her songwriting ability. Her influences span generations of blues, country, and rock 'n' roll greats that lead her to a unique soulful, country-tinged brand of roots rock 'n' roll.
Lady in the Men’s Room live at Barrow Brewing. 7:30 p.m.
The Killer Dueling Pianos at Mayborn Center. 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. It will be evening of good-natured fun and frolic with The Killer Dueling Pianos sponsored by the Rotary Club of Temple. Proceeds from the event will support Foster Love Bell County and The 411 House. Tickets are available at
https://centraltexastickets.com and will cover food by Pizza Wings n Things and an open bar with beer and wine options. A cash bar option will be available for mixed drinks. A silent auction/raffle will also be held for various prizes. Dress casual and be ready for a good time! Bring cash to tip the pianists.
Saturday, July 9
30th annual Seaton Star Hall BBQ Cookoff. 6 p.m. July 8, 4 p.m. July 9.
Sunflower Saturday at the Farm. Halvorson’s Hidden Harvest. Join us for our annual Sunflower Saturdays on the farm. Take a hayride down and around the wild sunflower field. Open 9 to 5pm. No admission fee to come to the farm, just come enjoy the farm with the family. At the Farm Store we have cantaloupes, watermelons, tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and of course pickles! Wagon hayrides down and around the wild sunflower field are $5/person if you order online ahead of time. Perfect stop for photos. There is no charge to pick wild sunflowers with the purchase of a wagon ride. The kids will love saying "Hi" to our cows, bunnies, and new baby goats! For directions and more info regarding the farm visit our website:
Master Gardeners at Temple Public Library. Adults only. Join us for a discussion held by the Bell County Master Gardeners on choosing plants for Central Texas. 3rd Floor, McLane Room. 2 to 4 p.m.
Kids’ Night Out at Sonya’s Creativ-ish Childcare Boutique. Parents, take the night off while your kids enjoy an evening packed full of FUN! $25 for the first child, $20 for siblings. Drop-off begins at 5:45 pm. Pizza dinner is included along with unlimited play, crafts & activities. For children, ages 2-8. Pajamas encouraged; socks required. Please RSVP early!Bring a water bottle, labeled with your child's name! Pickup by 10 p.m.
Historic Escape Games at Bell County Museum. There has been a crime at the museum and it is up to you to find the culprit! You have 60 minutes to work together, solve the crime, and escape! There are 3 game themes & times (please be mindful of ages); 5:30pm (Heist - ages 14 & older); 6:45pm (Heist or Murder Mystery - ages 14 & older); 8:00pm (Murder Mystery - ages 17 & older). Tickets are $10/person. Pre-registration is required at bellcountymuseum.org. Games are private and limited to 8 guests of the same group per game time. To reserve your game, payment is required within 3 business days of submitting the registration form. Payments can be made at the museum or over the phone at (254) 933-5243.
Erica Michelle live at Barrow Brewing. 8 p.m. Farmers Market, 9-1.
William Clark Green will be LIVE at Johnny's Outback at 6 p.m.! Tickets are on sale now at www.outhousetickets.com/Event/19757-William_Clark_Green
Downtown Temple’s Summer Market & Food Truck Frenzy! We’re celebrating summer America style! Come experience the flavors of Temple and Bell County. Live music, bouncy house, vendors and more. 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Marcus Lindsey live at Bo’s Barn. 9 p.m. Tickets: bosbarndancehall.com
Sami Show: Arts & Crafts market at Bell County Expo Center Assembly Hall. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, July 10
Sami Show: Arts & Crafts market at Bell County Expo Center Assembly Hall. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Unplugged Game Day at Temple Public Library. 2 to 4 p.m. Take a Risk, Monopolize on the fun, Checkers out (too far?) all we have to offer at our monthly all-ages board game group. Play new board games, or grab an old favorite, meet new folks, and have an overall good time. Whether you're into Settlers of Catan, Magic the Gathering, or Scrabble, we have you covered.
Live music at Barrow Brewing. 4 p.m. Summer Lecture Series at 2 p.m.
Texas Barbecue Festival at Schoepf’s. Texas Barbecue presents it's 1st Annual Texas Barbecue Festival featuring many of the Top 25 BBQ Joints in Texas from it's 2022 list. Tickets are limited to 300 and the cost is $75 per person. At the show you will get to sample food from the Top 25, hear live music (to be announced soon), other vendors, sample some wineries, and more details coming soon.
Martian Folk live at Fire Street Pizza in Belton. Noon.
Summer Lecture Series at 2 p.m. at Barrow Brewing Co. Live music TBD
Monday, July 11
Sweatin’ With The Oldies at Sammons Community Center. 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Join Kathy Patterson as she leads these extremely popular exercise sessions designed especially for those with mobility issues or who have difficulty standing while exercising. Slow stretches and comfortable balance exercises, while seated or in contact with a chair, will help tone and strengthen muscles to increase mobility and flexibility. Gradual use of hand weights and stretch bands is also incorporated. Easily adaptable for those with physical limitations. Two convenient session times to choose from. For more information, call 254.298.5403.
Trash to Treasure Totes, Sammons Community Center. 1 p.m. Go green and create a unique tote bag from plastic bags! Becca Bash will be teaching this fun and creative way to recycle and reuse those endless plastic grocery bags that get stashed away to create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind bag that could have a variety of uses. Watch that bag evolve into your own creation. Knowledge of basic crochet stitch is encouraged. A size K crochet hook is recommended. For more information, call 254.298.5403.
$1 Summer movies at The Beltonian Theatre. 10 a.m., 1, p.m. 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. The Lego Movie 2
Tuesday, July 12
Tai Chi at Sammons Community Center. 3 p.m. This ancient Chinese exercise and martial art promote vitality, balance, strength, and longevity. Using special breathing techniques and slow, precise physical movements, Tai Chi can help curtail arthritis, respiratory disease, and high blood pressure. Regular practice of this “Moving Meditation” also provides health benefits of stress reduction, mental alertness, and increased energy. This on-going course is adaptable for all levels of mobility. Led by Christopher Dow, who has practiced this and related Chi Kung exercise forms for 42 years. For more information, call 254.298.5403.
Summer Fun for Early Learners at Bell County Museum. 10 a.m. to noon. Kids 6 years and younger are invited to the museum with their families to explore the engaging interactive exhibits and participate in fun activities and crafts. Each day will have a special theme of activities: Today is Archaeology. The events are come and go and completely FREE!
On this day in 1716, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches Mission was founded by the Domingo Ramón expedition in a village of the Nacogdoches Indians. Father Antonio Margil de Jesús was in charge of the mission, which was abandoned temporarily in 1719 and became the first Zacatecan mission to be restored by the Marqués de Aguayo in 1721. Although the Nacogdoches mission was generally unsuccessful in its goal of converting the local Indians, it provided an important presence to offset French influence. It was permanently abandoned in 1773. In 1779 the deserted buildings formed the nucleus for the settlement of Nacogdoches.
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