Sherman is moving forward with the second portion of a $25,000 grant for a long-vacant building in Sherman’s downtown area set for a new use.
The Sherman City Council recently approved applicant Vanderveer Group LLC to receive the funds through the city’s Central Business District Historic Building Restoration and Improvement Grant Program. The building to be restored, the former Roberts, Sanford and Taylor building at 124 North Walnut Street, was built around 1900 and the portion to be worked on will be used as an event venue, Vanderveer Group’s Sean Vanderveer told the council.
“We own other buildings downtown already but don’t have an event center downtown,” Vanderveer said. “This opens up more opportunities. Anytime you add something other than what is already here, it’s addition — that is why we’re excited to bring something that is different.”
Vanderveer previously said the restoration work will include renovations to the interior and exterior of a portion of the 28,500-square-foot building. He said the building will be divided into two portions. The first phase will be the 11,500 square foot portion being developed for weddings and similar events. Vanderveer said the space will be able to accommodate over 300 people in the larger space with a smaller space adjacent to the main hall.
Vanderveer said his intention is to complete construction on the space this year. The venue owner said he would approach the city with intentions to return the grant funds in the event he was not able to get the project going, but he was optimistic about the project’s future.
“We think this is a great thing for downtown and we’re still pushing for it,” Vanderveer said. “We’ve been doing slow work on it. We’re hoping the engineers will be done this month.”
The grant program, which is designed to help facilitate permanent improvements to commercial buildings of historical significance to the area, is funded by revenue from the Hotel-Motel Occupancy Tax and applicants for the grants are required to provide four times the amount awarded as matching funds. Vanderveer Group qualified for the program’s maximum matching grant of $25,000, but received $15,009 of the $50,000 originally earmarked for the program last year. The second part of the grant approved by the council this month added another $9,991.
Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said the project will have a great impact on the city’s the central business district.
“The RST building is not only one of our most important historical landmarks,” Strauch said via email. “It also occupies a large and prominent corner of real estate. To have that block be reactivated and brought back to life as an event venue would create a ripple effect impacting many of the great, locally-owned boutiques and restaurants in our historic downtown.”
Vanderveer said the project’s construction is currently in the early stages. He said one of the challenges facing the work is the lack of a roof.
“For our properties, this is the next step in the type of development we want to do,” Vanderveer said. “It compliments our goal of retail, restaurant and residential spaces. It brings an element to downtown that doesn’t exist, which can help broaden some of the opportunities already happening in the area.”
The Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission approved a specific use permit and site plan for Vanderveer’s plan for the building last April. He said, following renovations, the event center in the former Roberts, Sanford and Taylor building would be used for weddings, as a picture setting and possibly for proms for smaller high schools.
Plans provided to the city last year show the event center will 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 previously explained the venue will be on the southeast corner of the building and will be designed to preserve a lot of the historical space.