Denison is already beginning to see some fruits of it’s upcoming Designing Downtown Denison project with developers expressing interest in downtown citing what the city calls “D3” as a motivator. The city is currently in design phase of the multi-year, multi-million dollar project that will tear up and redo much of Main Street.

The first phase will stretch from the railroad crossing east of Houston Avenue and run to Rusk Avenue along Main Street, costing $10 million of the $45 million total for the project that will span the next decade.

“The city’s investment in downtown will create a more walkable, vibrant pedestrian environment, encourage private investment, and bring more business to Main Street,” Denison City Manager Jud Rex said.

The first phase will begin in the first half of 2020 and is expected to take around 18 months to complete. The project is being funded through the city’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone which was created in 2016. The funding will be used to improve the streets, sidewalks, drainage and other aspects of Main Street to attract more visitors to the area.

Rex said the announcement of the new Domino’s location on Main Street as well as other restaurants and retail outlets demonstrate the success of the program.

“We expect this level of activity to continue and even increase as we draw near to the planned construction of phase one of the streetscape improvements,” Rex said. “In addition to Domino’s, the TRYIncubator and Bohemian Taco are currently under development. Both have cited the city’s investment in Main Street as influencing their decision to locate downtown. This is a trend that will continue. Private investment and public investment are tied together. The redevelopment of the Denison Hotel is another example of private investment as a result of the city investing in downtown.”

Denison Development Alliance Vice President of Business Development William Myers said the renovation project has been attracted buzz in the business community.

Domino’s and Subway are two national chains that have expressed interest in being downtown. In the case of Subway, Myers said the chain got as close as it could to Main Street while Domino’s is going to be right on Main Street. He said that the historical district does provide a unique challenge for business but any business that would be interested in downtown will putt in the effort. The Subway location is still under construction too.

DDA President Tony Kaai said while there is a lot of buzz, there is also some concern.

“We want a diversity of business,” Kaai said. “There will be a certain amount of time where you cannot get in their front door. We’re all working on different scenarios how we can continue to get their customers in. It will mostly be in the back. That means alley’s will need to be fixed first. Then the front will come out.”

Kaai said it will be worth it to businesses once it gets completed.