The Denison City Council unanimously approved the conditional use permit for a new food truck park in downtown Denison Monday. The proposed food truck park, located at the northeast corner of Rusk and Crawford Street, would feature outdoor dining, a stage for live performances and space for both traveling and permanent food trucks.


“With the entertainment district and all the energy put into our downtown, this is a project we hope will do well,” Denison Mayor Jared Johnson said Monday, following the meeting.


The request was made by Hempkins Partners and was first discussed by the city over the summer when items related to the project passed through the Historic Preservation Board and Planning and Zoning Commission. The item was passed with little conversation or discussion by the council.


Due to relationships with the requester, councilor Kris Spiegel recused himself from this and two other Hempkins-related items during Monday’s meeting.


Kevin Hempkins, representing Hempkins Partners, said the idea for a food truck park came as developers were looking for a new use for the empty lot.


“I hate to say it, but it is kind of an eyesore,” he said. “It is one of those lots that is often forgotten, and is usually overgrown.”


Hempkins said he hopes to have six to ten full-time vendors at the site, with room for an additional 12 spaces for traveling trucks and for space during special events and festivals. For the stage and other improvements, Hempkins said he expected to invest about $25,000 in the project.


Originally, Hempkins said he intended to open the park in time for the first Denison High School football game in Munson Stadium, however, he ran into difficulties in the design for the bathrooms at the site. Additionally, the required city permits and meetings took longer than initially anticipated.


By offering space for food trucks, Hempkins said he wanted to increase the variety of dining options for visitors to downtown.


“It is just one more option for the person coming out for the football game or just passing through,” he said.


In addition to the food truck park, Hempkins Partners also had an item on Monday’s agenda related to the construction of a new Subway restaurant just three blocks away along Austin Avenue. Hempkins said he hoped that these two developments, and other existing restaurants, can have a symbiotic relationship and collectively bring more visitors to downtown.


Monday’s request marks the first application for a conditional use permit for food truck parks since the city updates its ordinance to add language for this use in August. Denison Development Services Director Gabe Reaume said the ordinance change was needed due to requests by Hempkins and other prospective developers.


“We had gotten a lot of inquiries about this,” he said. “When people approach with a project they want to know our standards. It offers them some level of predictability.”


Through this new food truck park, Reaume said, he hopes to help add to the other efforts that the city and private developers have made in cultivating downtown Denison into an entertainment district. For this to be successful, the city will need a variety of restaurants to bring in visitors, he said.


“That is all part of the customer experience and brand that is downtown Denison,” he said.