The heart of Denison may soon have new life through redevelopment, new businesses and public works projects that will be taking place over the next year.
These projects include investment by the city aimed at spurring new private development, the opening of several new lofts and downtown living options, and the opening of new restaurants, including a new restaurant incubator that is expected to open this summer.
“The whole city really working together is really what it takes,” Main Street Director Donna Dow said Friday, describing the projects. “We have a lot of stakeholders working together to bring our community together.”
The projects were highlighted Friday during the Denison Development Alliance’s annual economic development summit in a segment dedicated to downtown Denison. The portion of the event included talks by Dow, DDA Vice President William Myers, and Josh Massey, developer for the TRY Incubator.
Denison’s new restaurant incubator
One of the most anticipated projects that is expected to open later this year is likely a business incubator development on Main Street aimed at start-up restaurants.
The idea behind the TRY Incubator came to Massey after he pursued redevelopment projects in smaller towns similar to Denison where restaurants served as the anchor for economic renewal.
“What we saw in those two redevelopments was that the downtown tends to be the heart of the community,” he said.
Massey is proposing to build a food-court style restaurant within 507 W. Main St. that will featuring six restaurant stalls with a seventh dedicated to a beef-garden style service. This would allow prospective restaurateurs to test ideas in a collective setting with little overhead capital investment required.
The developer said he has seen a problem with Denison’s culinary scene in that many talents chefs and cooks are recruited to larger markets in the Metroplex and Durant. With TRY, Massey said he hoped to create a space where area chefs can hone their ideas and concepts locally and hopefully keep this talent in Texoma.
With the concept, Massey said TRY will be able to avoid one of the major hurdles for other restaurants that are looking to move into downtown — ample nearby parking. With the variety of parking options available, Massey said his studies have indicated that diners will be willing to walk a little further.
Massey said the development will also help boost downtown Denison’s density as he plans to also renovate the second floor into four loft apartments. Myers said this made TRY unique in that it met many of the DDA’s priorities including the creation of a destination and living options in downtown.
The developer said he has already confirmed Sherman’s Downtown Grilled Cheese Company as the first tenant, but said he is also looking for other tenants, including an Asian fusion option.
Gary Roberts, owner of the Downtown Grilled Cheese Company, confirmed that he planned to open a second location at the incubator following the relocation of the Sherman restaurant to the 903 Brewers building.
“They reached out to me, and I told them I’d look into and consider opening in downtown Denison,” Roberts said. “We are a downtown type lunch stop in Sherman and I feel that style would work in downtown Denison.
Beyond TRY Incubator, Massey said he also is involved with the development of the Wayfarer — an up-scale steakhouse and gastropub restaurant near the Denison hotel. However, Massey gave few additional details about the restaurant.
Designing Downtown Denison
While focus was placed on the 500 block of Main Street during Friday’s presentations, 2019 will likely see the start of extensive changes on the other side of Austin Avenue on East Main. The city is expected to start the first phase of major infrastructure and streetscape improvements along Main Street within the next year, Dow said during her part of the segment.
The project, which was first visualized in 2016 through a series of visioning sessions, will see the majority of Main Street in downtown rebuilt in stages to include enhanced parking, sidewalk and outdoor areas and street improvements.
As one of the first steps of the project, Dow said city officials are rebranding the initiative. During Friday’s presentation, Dow unveiled new designs and logos for the initiative under the name D3. Dow said this move is to simplify the name and help improve understanding of the project.
These logos will be used in downtown during the lead up to the improvements as a way to increase awareness of the businesses in downtown during these periods of construction.
Dow said the project will likely see the improvement and opening of many of downtown’s alley’s Dow said. This will open options for outdoor space and pedestrian paths in the space in coming years.
The City Council is expected to consider renaming several of the alleyways during its upcoming meeting Tuesday night.