Future of Downtown
The city's neighborhood plan is full of recommendations designed to attract businesses and people to Downtown Temple.
THURSDAY DECEMBER 9, 2021
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
A 135-page Downtown plan has been released by the city of Temple, outlining recommendations designed to attract new businesses and residents into the downtown district to create jobs and recreational opportunities for local residents.
Downtown is one of 18 defined neighborhoods within the city, and through discussions with residents the city hopes to make improvements to each district, according to Nancy Glover, the city’s director of Housing & Community Development.
“So far, six of the 18 neighborhood plans have been completed, and the Downtown plan is the seventh.”
The plan for Downtown has been created to enhance the area in an effort to attract private investors and ensure growth.
“We started working on the Downtown plan about five months ago by reaching out to the community,” Glover said Wednesday. “We wanted to identify the goals and concerns of residents and businesses. We want their input on creating something that can be enjoyed for years to come.”
After collecting the community’s comments, that information was turned over to KPA Engineering and Covey Landscape Architects to develop a draft plan, which was released last week in video form.
“Now that the public has seen the video, we are giving them the opportunity to make additional comments,” Glover said. “We want to make sure nothing has been overlooked.”
The deadline for public comment is Dec. 13, then new comments will be sent back to the engineering firms to put into a plan that will go before City Council at their first January meeting. Glover said the Council is expected to approve the plan by the end of January.
“This is not something that will sit on a shelf and collect dust,” she said. “The approved plan will be implemented.”
So what’s included in the plan? Well, it would take another 135 pages to answer that question. Instead, let’s look at some of the plan’s highlights.
Possibly the biggest recommendation in the draft-version of the plan is reverting portions of Adams and Central Avenues to two-way traffic. These streets were two-way until the 1980s.
“Central and Adams would become two-way streets beginning at 9th Street and going toward Downtown,” Glover explained. “Adams would be two-way from 9th Street to 3rd Street, and it already is two-way from 3rd Street going east.”
Adams would remain one-way from 9th Street going west toward Interstate 35.
Central Avenue currently has a longer stretch of one-way traffic and would become two-way from 9th Street all the way to MLK Boulevard.
“The goal would be to slow down traffic approaching Downtown,” she said. “Right now, if the light at Central and 3rd is green, it’s like a speedway.”
In addition, 9th Street would be improved with updated sidewalks between Central and Adams, Glover said.
The probable cost of converting Central and Adams is about $10.3 million — by far the most expensive project in the Downtown plan.
“One of my favorite recommendations on this plan is the renovation of the old Katy Depot into a key Downtown destination,” she said. “No decision has been made as to what would go into the depot, but I think making it a priority is a wonderful idea. It’s truly a historic gem.”
The Katy Depot was owned by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and was given to the city in the 1980s. The expected cost for the depot renovation is not included in the plan and is listed as “pending.”
Another recommendation is the creation and expansion of Storybook Grove.
The city purchased just under a half-acre on West Barton Avenue just behind Temple Public Library for a story-time themed park designed for families and young children.
The park — Storybook Grove — would feature an area where the library can hold outdoor reading sessions. The park also would include an interactive play area based on popular children’s books such as “Winnie the Pooh,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Charlotte’s Web” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”
“The plan calls for the creation of an art trail linking Storybook Park, the Art Trains, Downtown murals and some future art installations,” Glover said. “The park would include statues of storybook animals.”
The Storybook Grove and Art Trail has a probable price tag about $2.1 million.
The plan calls for the creation of Bicycle Boulevard linking Downtown, the Temple Historic District and the Garden District, which is north of Temple Historic District roughly between Nugent Avenue and Industrial.
“The Bicycle Boulevard already has been included in the Temple Historic District neighborhood plan,” Glover said. “Eventually, it will link to Downtown and the Santa Fe Trail.”
One recommendation brought up repeatedly by Temple residents is the construction of public restrooms in the Downtown district, especially in the vicinity of The Yard food truck court.
Glover said another recommendation is cleaning up Downtown alleys.
“There’s an opportunity to create pedestrian-friendly alleys that are safe and that aren’t lined with trash bins,” she said. “We may look into underground compactors for garbage storage. The alleys also need lighting.”
There are dozens of other recommendations for Downtown, including the creation of a Farmer’s Market area; developing a City Center concept focusing on the area around the Hawn, Arcadia and Central Plaza Apartments area; improvements to Baker Field; developing MLK Festival Grounds; and street and street sign improvements throughout the neighborhood.
The draft of the Downtown plan and other neighborhood plans can be found at templetx.gov/lovedowntown.
Glover said city staff also have started working on neighborhood plans for the TMED District and Jackson Park neighborhood.
Here’s an artist’s rendering of what Storybook Grove may look like. The park likely would feature an area where the library can hold outdoor reading sessions. It also would include an interactive play area based on popular children’s books
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“A lot of small stores are doing well inside the Mall. We work together — partner on some things — and it’s working out.”
Robert Brandenburg owns three stores in Temple Mall and says 2021 has been a good year. He believes the Mall’s new owner — Kohan Retail Group — will make positive changes that will revitalize the iconic shopping center.
Smaller mall businesses are surviving
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
The fall of Temple Mall has been greatly exaggerated. At least that’s the opinion of one local businessman.
Robert Brandenburg owns three businesses at the iconic shopping center. It’s actually four, but he has hit the pause button on one venture.
“I started out 10 years ago working at a kiosk in the middle of the Mall,” Brandenburg said. “A friend owned Under My Skin, and he decided to call it quits. You might say opportunity knocked and I opened the door.”
“I revived the business and had it going strong,” he said. “The kiosk was right by the movie theater, so it had some traffic. I just took advantage of my opportunities and made it go.”
In addition to the popular piercing studio, Brandenburg also owns Peggy’s Coffee and Candy & More. He had started Big Top Pretzels just as the pandemic hit, but decided to put those plans on hold until after COVID settles down.
Under his direction, Under My Skin has evolved from a kiosk that sold body jewelry to a full-fledged piercing studio.
“We are Temple’s first and only licensed piercing studio,” he said. “And we have nothing but five-star reviews.”
Two years ago, Brandenburg decided to partner with a similar business in Austin, and together they advanced operations to include the piercing studio.
Brandenburg took over the former Cuppy’s Coffee Shop in 2013 after the owner retired. His mother had passed that year so he decided to rename the business in her honor.
“I got it going and brought the Cuppy’s employees back, and some are still here,” he said.
Brandenburg acquired Candy & More in 2017 after the store’s owners decided to pursue the jewelry business.
Brandenburg acknowledges that a steady stream of businesses have left the mall — jewelry stores, shoe stores and even big anchors such as Macy’s and JC Penney. But, he pointed out, those are big corporations that count on stores making a hefty profit.
“A lot of small stores are doing well inside the Mall,” he said. “We work together — partner on some things — and it’s working out.”
“Rent is incredibly fair for my businesses and it hasn’t been raised in 10 years. Plus, the Mall has allowed me to use a vacant space for storage. The supply chain issue really isn’t affecting me because I use the vacant space as my own warehouse, and I can order in quantity and have it close by.”
Besides the cheap rent and camaraderie between business owners, Brandenburg said he also has a personal connection to Temple Mall.
“My dad managed the Kaybee Toys here, and my mom also managed a business here,” he said. “And besides, my first job was in this mall. There’s definitely some history here.”
Earlier this fall, Temple Mall was purchased by Kohan Retail Group, a company that owns shopping centers across the United States.
Brandenburg believes Kohan will make positive changes to bring the crowds back to Temple Mall, but the center has been plagued with issues in the recent past.
Telephone calls by Our Town Temple to Kohan and Temple Mall management about future plans have not been returned.
Gone are the anchor giants and several other national retailers, and landscaping services and maintenance have been lacking. More than two years ago, plans were announced to build an aquarium inside the mall, but after months of hype plans fell apart.
The pandemic hit in early 2020 and that made business tough for Temple Mall survivors.
Still, business owners such as Brandenburg are full of hope.
“Kohan has only had the Mall for a couple months,” he said. “I’m sure they are going to make changes. Some liability issues are being addressed, and that’s a good start. I also think the lawn care has improved a bit. At least they are addressing the problems.”
In the meantime, business is booming at Brandenburg’s three stores.
“I’ve been here long enough that my businesses are now destinations,” he said. “People come to the Mall for a specific game, to workout at the two gyms, to get a piercing, for Peggy’s Death Wish coffee. They don’t come in just browsing, they come in to buy and spend.”
“To be honest, it’s hard to keep up with demand,” he said. “2020 was slow — it was for everyone — but this year was better than 2019.”
Brandenburg said he hopes Temple will get behind the new Mall ownership group.
“If people are excited and come to the Mall, I think they Kohan will invest heavily in Temple,” he said. “People have to understand, corporations are about money. If they think they can make money here, they will make big changes.”
Candy & More employee Kyle Jones chats with a customer at Temple Mall.
THE LARGEST, MOST COMPREHENSIVE EVENTS CALENDAR IN CENTRAL TEXAS!
PEACE OF MIND VETERANS PROGRAMS: In partnership with Help Vets Heal of Temple, veterans are invited for a special program at the museum. Visit the museum to view the exhibits, including the newest traveling exhibit, Private Charles J Miller: WWII Paintings from the South Pacific. Then, make your own wooden Christmas ornament! The event is completely FREE, but pre-registration is required and spaces are limited. 10 a.m. to noon, Friday, Dec. 17.
HOLIDAY FEST: Celebrate and learn more about different winter holidays from around the world, including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Diwali. Make your own Christmas ornaments, Diwali candles, and Hanukkah dreidels! The event is completely FREE. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18.
GAULT SITE TOUR: Join us Feb. 12 at the Gault Site for a tour! It is a fully guided 3-hour tour across the 2.5 miles long site. Learn about the many artifacts excavated and the Paleoindian culture found right here in Bell County! Pre-registration required; $10/person 11 years and older. Meet at the site at 8:30am. Tour begins at 9 am. Maps will be provided. The site is 30 minutes from Belton. Tickets are $10 per person.
FACING THE INFERNO: THE WILDFIRE PHOTOGRAPHY OF KARI GREER: Colorful, intimate, and intensely dramatic images that capture the work of wildland firefighters in this new exhibit that runs through Jan. 15. Amazing photography. First responders and immediate family will be admitted free through Dec. 3.
COMING NEXT MONTH! ALIENTO a TEQUILA: This exhibit explores and celebrates the landscape, culture, and traditions that gave birth to tequila. A series of photographs by Joel Salcido include the original distilleries that founded the industry, as well as several artisanal tequilerías committed to the ancestral ways of tequila-making, from harvest to bottle. Jan. 28-March 16.
MERRY CHRISTMAS & ALL THAT JAZZ: Temple ISD jazz bands, including The Highlighters, will be performing at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Meridith-Dunbar Early Childhood Academy Auditorium.
TEXAS NUTCRACKER BALLET: The Classical Ballet Conservatory at Lisa’s Dance Connection will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Cultural Activities Center.
WINTER BAND CONCERT: Temple High School bands perform at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, in the THS Auditorium.
LAST OF THE RED-HOT LOVERS: The Temple Civic Theater will hold auditions at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12 and 13. Complete a theater form at https://www.theaterforms.com/TempleCivicTheatre/Lovers/auditionform/. Be prepared to give a short monologue. If call backs are necessary, there will be side reads. The rehearsal schedule has not been determined because of the upcoming holidays. The show will run Feb. 4-13 at TCT.
CHRISTMAS CONCERT: The Temple High School Orchestra will perform at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13 in the THS Auditorium.
THE GIFT: Temple High School choir performs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the THS Auditorium.
SHINY RIBS: Shiny Ribs will perform at the Cultural Activities Center in Temple at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 18.
O’Briens Irish Pub with the Jason Custer Band. 10 p.m.
Bo’s Barn Dancehall Craig Howell & Somewhere in Texas will hit the stage at 9 p.m. $25 per person to include Cover, Party Favors, Champagne, Breakfast and Black Eyed Peas!!! 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Corky’s Wine Bar. Located at 13 S. Second Street, Corkys Wine and Beer hopes to have the most happening New Years Eve party in Central Texas! Tickets are only $35! Included in the price you get a midnight champagne toast, party favors, a souvenir glass, breakfast food after the ball drops and your live music and dancing for the evening! Attire is semi-formal.
December 9, Thursday - Taproom Trivia at Fire Base Brewing Co. 7 p.m.
December 10, Friday — Vista’s Jingle Jam 2021 at Vista Community Church. Join us for the most fun, biggest, Christmas party of the year for your whole family. We'll play games, sing Christmas songs, have Christmas cookies and cocoa, and hear the Christmas story in a way kids can understand. And it is totally FREE! We’ll have a Jingle Jam session at 5:30pm and 7pm.
December 10, Friday - Nick Sterling & The Nomads, plus Ethan Smith at O’Brien’s Irish Pub.
December 10, Friday —Branded Heart at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m.
December 10-12 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 10-12, The Texas Nutcracker, performed by Classical Ballet Conservatory of Lisa's Dance Connection, performance at the Cultural Activities Center.
December 10, Friday - Dinosaurs in December at Gober Party House. Children will enjoy learning exciting new things about dinosaurs and science. Make dino-mite crafts, foils and play some fun dinosaur games. The cost is $7 per person and you must preregister at https://bit.ly/3D6q2J9
December 11, Saturday - Holiday Bazaar at Holy Trinity Catholic High School, 6608 W. Adams Ave. in Temple. Photos with Santa, Santa’s Workshop, food, perfect last-minute gifts. Vendor spots still available. www.holytrinity.com. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Photos with Santa at Horny Toad Harley-Davidson. Bring your own camera or smartphone and get Free photos with Santa! Limited 3-photos per group.11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Proctor Victory Garden's Mobile Mercantile full of artisanal pickles & pepper jellies will be at Barrow Brewing Company’s Christmas Market during The Salado Stroll. Drop by 108 Royal Street in Salado to sample our briney faire! Noon to 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday — Winter Wonderland at Wilson Park Recreation Center. Santa’s coming to visit all the good little boys and girls at the Wilson Park Recreation Center. 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Join us for cookies, hot cocoa, gifts, and pictures during this special family event.The event is FREE; however, registration is required. Register today here: https://bit.ly/3CZEKBV.
December 11, Saturday — Downtown Temple Holiday Market & Food Truck Frenzy. Its Holiday Season! We are excited to partner our market series with another Food Truck Event! Come join us in Downtown Temple and spread some holiday joy by supporting local businesses in our area!We will have plenty of vendors, food trucks to satisfy anyone's cravings, live music and activities for kids! Come find that perfect gift for your loved ones - whether it be a new piece of jewelry, some unique bath products, or a fun knickknack. 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - 5th annual Holiday Extravaganza at the Troy Community Center. Shop with local small businesses. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Tucka Texas Takeover with LJ Echols, Fat Daddy and Mr. Smoke. VFW Post 1820, Temple. 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday — 35 South at Bo’s Barn. 9 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Holiday Laser Light Show at Barrow Brewing Co. in Salado. Part of the 61st annual Salado Christmas Stroll. 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Name That Tune Bingo Retro Party at Fire Base Brewing Co., 7:30 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - 4 Band Show at O’Briens Irish Pub, including Stillhouse Howlers, Fvrorem, Burn Ban and SHFUX. 9 p.m. to midnight. Old-time tunes and punk rock.
December 14, Thursday - Czech Film Night at The Beltonian. With Czech beer and great food. The beer is imported from Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic and it is a medieval brewery dating back to 1265.
December 16, Thursday - Taproom Trivia at Fire Base Brewing Co., 7-9 p.m.
December 17, Friday - Matt Cearley & The Rowdy Few, O’Briens. 9 p.m.
December 17, Friday — Hyway Traveler at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m.
December 17, Friday — “It’s a Wonderful Life” at The Beltonian Theatre. 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
December 17, Friday - Christmas Stroll & Market at Lakewood Professional Park, 200 Paloma Drive in Temple. Drinks, vendors, lights, food and Santa! 6 to 9 p.m.
December 18, Saturday — “It’s a Wonderful Life” at The Beltonian Theatre. 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
December 18, Saturday — The Real Gun Show at Bell County Expo Assembly Hall. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
December 18, Saturday - Game Show Night by Texas Red at Fire Base Brewing Co., 7-9 p.m.
December 18, Saturday — Lilly & The Implements at O’Briens Irish Pub…GREAT BAND ALERT! 9 p.m.
December 18, Saturday - Shinyribs, Cultural Activities Center, 7:30 p.m.