Plan suggests Temple Mall redevelopment
TMED plan recommends transforming the Mall into a Domain-like complex.
An artist rendering shows an entrance to a redeveloped Temple Mall area that features multi-family housing, shops, office space and restaurants. It’s all part of the Temple Medical & Eduational District (TMED) neighborhood plan that will be presented to City Council later this month.
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
A proposed plan that would mean big changes in the Temple Medical & Education District will be presented to City Council this month and could be adopted as early as April 7, according to Assistant City Manager Erin Smith.
The plan for the district is part of the city’s ‘Love Where You Live’ initiative that is creating guidelines for growth in 18 of Temple’s neighborhoods.
“TMED is a very big district, and it includes some of Temple’s giants,” Smith said. “Baylor Scott & White, the VA center, Blackland Research, Temple College, Temple Mall and McLane’s Children’s Hospital are all in this massive district.”
Like the city’s other neighborhood plans that have been created, the first step toward developing the TMED guide was to talk to the people who live, work and own property there.
“There was a lot of community engagement,” Smith said. “We conducted surveys, created focus groups and talked to the stakeholders in the community — the residents, major businesses, apartment complexes — to get opinions about what the plan should include.”
Because TMED is so large, the plan — developed by KPA Engineering and Covey Landscape Architects — breaks the neighborhood into five sections: Baylor Scott & White Campus, College Place, Tarrant Park, TMED South and South 31st.
“TMED has complexity not found in the other neighborhood planning districts,” Smith said. “So, we subdivided the district to better define each section’s role.”
The 99-page TMED plan contains hundreds of changes and proposals. Here are the highlights in each subdistrict, and we will start with a biggie:
South 31st Street. This area includes the Children’s Hospital, H-E-B, Lowes and Temple Mall.
The proposed TMED plan calls for a complete redesign of the Temple Mall area. Dillards and Extreme Jump own their buildings inside the mall, but developers recommend leveling the rest of the indoor retail center and building a Domain-style outdoor shopping and activity center.
“We’ve been in contact with Kohan Retail Investment Group, the new owners of Temple Mall,” Smith said. “The mall provides us with a huge opportunity for redevelopment, and Kohan is interested.”
“This would create a mixed-use area potentially with retail shops, offices, restaurants, a hotel and multifamily residences,” she said.
Consultants say a parking garage at the site would reduce the need for large surface parking lots.
Phone calls and emails to the Kohan group this week were not returned.
Other highlights in the South 31st Street subdistrict include improvements to Market Loop. A train-themed mural is being painted along this gateway to the McLane’s Children’s Hospital, and a sidewalk would be built next to the mural. A tree-lined green buffer would separate the sidewalk from the busy street, making the area more pedestrian friendly.
Oak Creek Trail would be constructed from Loop 363 through the Children’s Hospital campus to Oak Creek Park, affectionately known locally as Pig Park because of three bronze pig statues.
“The plan calls for picnic tables and shelters along the trail and creek, and safe pedestrian crossings on Cottonwood Lane,” Smith said.
Baylor Scott & White Campus. This subdistrict includes more than just the hospital and clinic. The District Shopping Center, American Legion Post No. 133 and Villas on the Hill Apartments are all included, plus everything in between.
Several years ago, a traffic circle was constructed at the intersection of Avenue U and 13th Street. The center of the circle is basically empty, but crafters of the TMED plan envision a monument similar to the Wildcat Circle monument at Temple High. But, instead of a giant mascot, this circle would feature a tall Helix monument celebrating the area’s medical and educational accomplishments.
The subdistrict also would include an Avenue T-to-Jaycee Park trail, new bus stops, and added and improved sidewalks.
Tarrant Park. This subdivision is largely undeveloped and will eventually become a mostly residential neighborhood. It is somewhat cut off from the rest of TMED by railroad tracks, which limits connectivity to the other subdistricts.
Tarrant Park includes industry such as Sunbelt Transformers, senior living centers and Tarrant Lake Park.
The plan calls for creating a Greenway Trail extending from Loop 363 through Tarrant Park to the Ferguson Park neighborhood. Essentially, it would link Temple College to Temple’s east side neighborhoods.
Greenway Trail would follow existing utility easements, and trailhead parking would be just off Loop 363.
TMED South. This is another subdistrict of TMED that has little development today. It is, however, home to Blackland Research Center, Everest Rehabilitation Hospital and Tractor Supply Company.
If the plan is adopted, the subdistrict will be home to a mix of different moderately priced residential developments and pockets of commercial development to create a “diverse and vibrant community.”
“The area would include single-family homes, apartments and townhomes,” Smith said.
Two big changes in TMED South involve roads.
“A lot of planning has already been done in this area,” she said. “First Street will be extended from Loop 363 through future residential areas to Blackland Road. Ultimately, it will continue south and curve back to the west, connecting with 5th Street.”
Blackland Road, which crosses the subdistrict and provides access to Blackland Research Center, will eventually become a major thoroughfare, according to Smith.
College Place. This subdistrict is described in the plan as “the heart” of TMED. Temple College, the Summit Recreation Center, the VA, Temple Civic Theatre and a portion of Friar’s Creek Trail are all located here. Most of the existing single-family housing in TMED also are found in this subdistrict.
One of the biggest changes in College Place calls for the extension of Friar’s Creek Drive from 5th Street to 31st, and it would serve as a connection between Baylor Scott & White and Temple College. The new road also would create additional spaces for commercial development.
Improvements to Veterans Memorial Drive (1st Street in front of the VA) would include new landscaping and wide multi-use sidewalks suitable for pedestrian, bicycle and wheelchair traffic.
In addition to the subdistrict features, the plan also calls for adding continuous sidewalks to South 31st Street and along with trees and landscaping to create a green-space buffer between the sidewalk and street.
Wide sidewalks — at least 10 feet wide — would be placed along 5th Street near Temple College to allow for increased pedestrian traffic. The plan also includes a variety of street and trail lights, and TMED-specific signage, throughout the neighborhood.
“Some of the lights located in green-space buffers would have two lights on the same pole,” Smith said. “The sidewalk side would have a lower light than the street side to provide added safety for pedestrians.”
Like the Downtown plan adopted last month, underground trash bins would be considered for portions of TMED.
The underground bins replace Dumpsters and are more visibly pleasing, Smith said. They also eliminate odors and lessen the possibility of rodent issues.
The above map shows the TMED neighborhood in red. The map below breaks TMED into five subdivisions: Baylor Scott & White Campus, College Place, Tarrant Park, TMED South and South 31st.
An artists rendering shows a Helix sculpture in the traffic circle between Baylor Scott & White and Temple College. The completed circle would be similar to Wildcat Circle at Temple High School.
THURSDAY | MARCH 3, 2022
‘Ice’ 10K, Fun Run set for March 26 at Jeremiah’s in West Temple
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Run your ice off, Temple. It’s time to take some steps.
The second annual Jeremiah’s Italian Ice Spring Leap 10K and Fun Run will be Saturday, March 26, at the popular dessert shop, 7290 Honeysuckle in West Temple.
The 6.2 mile race features a course that starts and finishes by Jeremiah’s Italian Ice.
“We expect a lot of people to come out for a fun morning of fitness,” said Lynn Reichl, owner of Jeremiah’s. “All proceeds go to the city of Temple Parks & Recreation department.”
“This race is a great way to give back to the city of Temple, the city I live in and love,” Reichl said. “It also brings fitness and families together. The wonderful stories that result from these events are what I live for.”
Pre-registration is $25 for the 10k and $10 for the Fun Run. Registration closes March 20, but race-day registration will be available for $35 for the 10K and $10 for the Fun Run, using personal devices (phones, iPads) and credit cards only.
Dri-Fit shirts are guaranteed if registered by March 1 and there will be limited quantities available after this date.
Awards will be presented to the overall male and female finishers, as well as top three finishers per age group. Age groups are 9 and under, 10 to 14, 15 to 19, 20 to 24…and continuing through 75+.
The event will be chip timed and access to free professional race photos is included. Dogs and strollers are welcomed.
Outdoor Emergency Siren Test is Saturday
As Temple prepares for severe weather season, the city’s Emergency Management staff will be testing outdoor emergency sirens this Saturday and Saturday, April 2, at 11 a.m.
All 25 sirens will simultaneously sound for 3 minutes, which is the duration they would run during a real weather emergency event such as a tornado.
Lake Belton hosting One-Act-Play contest
The Lake Belton High School Theatre Department will host the District 4-A 10 UIL One Act Play Contest on Wednesday, March 9, at the Performing Arts Center, LBHS Theater Director Denise Larseon said.
Admission is free, and audience members should arrive at 10:50 a.m. for seating. The curtain at 11 a.m.
Competing high schools include Salado, Lake Belton, Jarrell, Burnett, and Taylor, Larsen said.
What is the purpose of Lake Polk, the largest body of water at what is now Sammons Golf Course?
To include your events in What’s Happening, email information to OurTownTemple@gmail.com. Photos are welcome to for use in the publication as space permits!
On this day in 1898, Norris Wright Cuney, politician, died in San Antonio. Born to a white planter father, Philip Minor Cuney, and a slave mother, Adeline Stuart, in 1846 near Hempstead, Texas, Cuney was educated in Pennsylvania. After the Civil War Cuney studied law and was appointed president of the Galveston Union League in 1871. In 1873 he was appointed secretary of the Republican State Executive Committee. Over the next twenty-odd years he held a number of important positions in the Republican Party. In 1886 he became Texas national committeeman of the Republican party, the most important political position given to a southern black man in the nineteenth century. One historian of the Republican party in Texas characterizes the period between 1884 and 1896 as the "Cuney Era." Among his achievements was the organization of the Screwmen's Benevolent Association and he was a supporter of the black state college at Prairie View (now Prairie View A&M University). Maud Cuney-Hare, the noted musicologist, was his daughter.
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On this day in 1899, a congressional act authorized the formation of the Thirty-Third Infantry Regiment, better known as the "Texas Regiment," one of the most famous American combat units of the Philippine Insurrection. The regiment was raised specifically for duty in the Philippines, and served there from October 27, 1899, until March 2, 1901. The regiment was organized at Fort Sam Houston. A third of the company officers as well as a third of the enlisted men were from Texas. The Thirty-third distinguished itself in the battles at Magnataram, Tirad Pass, Vigan, and Taguidin Pass. After the insurrection, some of the men chose to remain in the Philippines to serve with the Philippine Constabulary. The rest were mustered out of U.S. service in San Francisco on April 17, 1901.
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TODAY’S TEMPLE TRIVIA ANSWER: Water was always a problem in Temple, as it had no inexpensive natural water source. Wells were dug, and some sold water for fifty cents a barrel. Temple tried several different projects including building a huge water stand pipe (which promptly collapsed upon filling). The second standing water pipe replaced it and helped the availability of water. The Santa Fe Railway dammed Bird Creek and created Lake Polk for refilling steam engines passing through Temple. Finally water was piped from the Leon River, and now comes from Belton Lake.
As mentioned here yesterday, the Our Town Temple Facebook group has been discussing some of the old hamburger joints that used to be, and in one case still is, in Temple. As of today, here are the poll results: Charcoal Inn, 213; French Quarter, 140; Old Jody’s, 91; Where It’s At, 20; Smitty’s, 20; and Pops, 12. ChuckWagon wasn’t listed in the poll but still got 21 mentions. Stop by and join the fun by clicking the Facebook icon above.