A long-vacant building in Sherman’s downtown area could soon be put to new use.

The Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission recently approved a specific use permit and site plan for the former Roberts, Sanford and Taylor building at 124 N. Walnut St. to be used as an event center.

“We’re wanting to do an event venue for weddings and other things in the old Roberts, Sanford and Taylor building,” Sean Vanderveer, who represented owners the Vanderveer Group LLC before the commission, said. “That building’s been vacant for over three decades and it’s time to bring life back to it.”

Vanderveer said the idea for the event center initially came from photographers who have shot at the property.

“We’ve had a couple people take photos in there, professional photographers, and every time they say ‘Have you ever considered having weddings in here? We have clients right now that we could line up,’” Vanderveer said. “That was over the last several years. We’ve also had two high schools in the past — smaller high schools, Howe size — ask about having a prom.”

Commission Chairman Clay Mahone said he’d “love to see” the building in use and asked about the interior because it “looks like one giant building from the outside.”

“There are quite a few rooms inside,” Vanderveer said, explaining the event center will not use the entire building. “The very south room will be enclosed. The part that you will enter through is going to be a garden, there will be no roof on it to begin with. There is plans later on to cover that part.”

Plans provided to the city show the event center will take up 2,243 square feet of the interior of three of the eight rooms in the building and have a 5,316-square-foot courtyard. An illustration of the planned exterior of the building shows it will be called the “Event Venue at the RS&T.” Vanderveer explained the venue will be on the southeast corner of the building and will be designed to preserve a lot of the historical space.

“For the venue, you’ll actually enter from the old loading dock on Walnut Street,” Vanderveer said. “There’s several fire doors within the building and we’re trying to honor that.”

When asked about a rough timeline for getting the venue open to the public, Vanderveer said he was being “ambitious” when he said he’d like to see it ready in October of this year.

The specific use permit and site plan were approved unanimously by the commission, though Vice Chairman Eric Elliott was absent from the meeting. The specific use permit will next have to be approved by the Sherman City Council at an upcoming meeting.