By Nikki Velarde, The Belton Journal
During the Temple-Belton Board of REALTORS® (TBBOR) general membership meeting held Tuesday morning at the Wildflower Country Club in Temple, both Temple Mayor Danny Dunn and Belton Mayor Marion Grayson provided unique perspectives into the development and future outlook of both cities.
They each spoke about both current and future projects for the two cities, including construction and new development, infrastructure, parks and downtown redevelopment.
Temple just started a regional economic development group called Grand Central Texas, which comprises Temple, Belton, Killeen, Georgetown, Waco and Cameron.
“Since we are becoming more global as time goes by, we realized that if something happens in Killeen or if something happens in Waco, it’s beneficial to us here in Temple and Belton as well,” Mayor Dunn explained. “It puts us in a position where we have more site selectors looking at us and we have more folks looking at this area as a whole, so if we don’t get one, we might get the next one. It puts us at a level where we are able to compete at a much larger basis with communities all around the country.”
Recent construction and development projects in Belton include a CVS across from Walmart, a new convenience store and gas station between the Church of Christ and the Bank on Main Street, as well as approval for the development of ACE Hardware and Planet Fitness within the old HEB building.
“It’s exciting because it gives us new business instead of just having an empty building,” said Mayor Grayson.
Belton has also gotten to be quite the place for nursing care, including Stoney Brook, Luvida and Creekside Terrace.
There are exciting new developments in the future for Temple, as well.
“We have a lot of good things happening across from Scott & White Hospital,” said Mayor Dunn. “Shops on the Hill are currently being constructed to be a multi-use area with shopping and general retail, several restaurants, as well as a very nice multi-family complex that will be behind the Hilton Garden Inn. It will have everything from a walking trail to a dog park to fountains.”
In addition, another large development company is looking at the property across the street on the other side of Scott & White. “There’s a lot of good retail and lots of things happening in a very important region of our city.”
Some of the new businesses to Temple include Tri-Supply, Buc-ee’s and the Super Walmart, which is scheduled to open on July 8.
As far as the infrastructure goes and the completion of the construction to Interstate Highway 35 through the Temple area, Mayor Dunn notes it is a “monumental job” and will probably not see completion until 2017 or 2018. However, these changes “give us the opportunity to really change the face of Temple as you come into town” from the interstate, said Mayor Dunn.
Construction of I-35 in the Belton area is scheduled to be completed in the fall of next year, and “as soon as that’s done, we will start to see some exciting things happening along the interstate as well,” said Mayor Grayson.
This past fall, the NW Loop 363 was completed in Temple, which is the largest public investment on infrastructure in the city’s history. Additionally, Temple is in year three of a $120 million transportation capital improvement program, which includes building new streets in west Temple as well as a Legacy Program where $3-5 million per year are spent on redoing streets around the city.
“These are things that have needed to be done for a long time,” said Mayor Dunn.
Both communities are very happy and proud of their park systems. With the support and fundraising of the Lions Club, Belton has recently opened a special needs playground in Heritage Park as well as a T-ball field in the same park. One of the most recent additions that Belton prides itself in is the extension of the Hike and Bike Trail along Nolan Creek as well as the Nolan Creek Improvements behind the Gin.
“That whole area behind the Gin has just drawn people; it’s like a magnet,” Mayor Grayson explained. “As soon as the weather clears up, we will be having a dedication for the Nolan Creek Project.” Mayor Grayson is urging as many people to come out and join her on the Mayor flotilla during the dedication and ribbon cutting for Nolan Creek.
This past May, citizens of Temple passed a $27 million bond election that will do some new things to their parks.
“Crossroads Parks, upon completion, will be a 30-acre park that will have baseball fields, soccer fields, softball fields, walking trails, water features, and that will be one of our signature parks,” commented Mayor Dunn. “To put it into perspective, Lions Park is only about 130 acres. Crossroads Park will be huge.”
In addition, a deep water pool will be added to the Lions Junction Waterpark, as well as new restroom facilities and concession stands to be established in current parks with the use of this bond.
In recent years, Downtown Belton and Downtown Temple have seen growth, improvements and redevelopment. After fixing the infrastructure in Downtown Belton, it all depended on private investors to bring in some business. Within the past year, Downtown Belton has welcomed several new businesses to include Patriot Coney Island, Scores Pizza and Wings, Estacias, the approval for a Gun Shop and indoor range, as well as Main Street Bridal.
“What (Main Street Bridal owner Silvia Copenhaver) did with that building is awesome and shows what those buildings are capable of looking like,” said Mayor Grayson. “Yes, it takes a little bit of investment, but now that building is going to be there quite a while because of what she’s done.”
A little over a year ago, Temple updated a Downtown Master Plan that has been in effect for the past 13 years.
“It’s been incredibly successful seeing where we were then and fast-forward it and seeing how much better everything is in the downtown area,” explained Mayor Dunn.
Currently, Santa Fe Plaza is in the process of being turned into public space as well as Class-A office space, where “it’s going to be a place for people to meet,” Mayor Dunn commented.
Most recently, Temple saw approval for a BJ’s Brewery on East Central, which will supply beer to all of the BJ’s restaurants in a 5-state area and will include a tasting room.
“This serves as a catalyst, not only for downtown redevelopment but also for east Temple redevelopment which we are also working on,” Mayor Dunn added.
“As mayors, we are selling our region, not just selling our individual cities,” Mayor Grayson explained.
“There will always be a rivalry between Temple and Belton, but we’ve found that working together is so much more beneficial for our communities,” Mayor Dunn added. “We both just have a very wonderful working relationship both professionally and civically.”
“We’re a good team together,” said Grayson, and “it has become a wonderful friendship and partnership,” Dunn added. “It’s our responsibility as mayors to try to grow our communities as well as we can.”
The TBBOR helps maintain this vision by providing their members with the tools they need in order to remain successful and to enhance member productivity and professionalism. It is a non-profit organization that serves approximately 600 REALTOR® and Affiliate members. TBBOR is affiliated with the Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR) and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), and works to The Multiple Listing Service, education programs and an extensive political action program are just a few of the services TBBOR provides.
For more information, please visit www.temple-beltonbor.com.