By Terry Britt, Staff Writer
A big vision for the revitalization of Van’s downtown business district is going to take both time and money, according to local officials.
Discussion during a joint Van City Council and Van Economic Development Corporation (EDC) meeting on July 12 focused on developing a plan for an area that has seen better days, particularly in retail sales.
The area in question is the section of Main Street between South Pine and Quail streets.
Long-range planning for a revitalization effort got started at the July 12 meeting with the city council’s unanimous approval for the EDC to purchase a fire-damaged property on West Main to be redeveloped into a public space with tables, seating and a small stage.
Jerrod Fishback of the Van EDC called the purchase of the property “the first step” in a plan to bring Van residents and visitors back to the heart of the downtown area.
Representatives with Halff Associates, a Richardson-based engineering and architectural firm, presented at that meeting a computer model of what the redeveloped space could become.
They also presented a computer model transforming the now-vacant former downtown theater property into a 140-seat community theater.
While the redevelopment of those two properties could lead to retail businesses being drawn to that part of Main Street, Van City Administrator Gary McDaniels said coming up with the money would be the real work.
“You certainly would want to try to get some grants, and the EDC can also put money into it,” he said.
“But I think the big thing that has to be done is to try to get the property owners to buy into it, to buy into the plan and the vision you have,” McDaniels added.
He warned that no one should expect things to happen on a fast track.
“It’s going to be a long-term effort, just as it will be with future plans for our city hall. No one should expect that to be built quickly. It will be probably a two-to-three-year process once it starts,” McDaniels explained.
Joint Meeting Thursday
Another city council meeting has been set for tonight (Thursday) at 6 p.m. at the Van Community Center.
This public hearing and special meeting concerns a proposal to allow the city to offer property tax abatement to qualifying companies willing to locate or relocate in Van.
In particular, it concerns an industrial area between Park Row and Interstate 20.
At the July 12 meeting, Fishback said he had been in negotiations with a firm that would consider relocating to Van if a property tax abatement was part of the deal.
McDaniels commented this week that bringing in new industry to Van will be key to helping the city as oil and gas production continue to decrease.