The city has an extensive plan for downtown, and expects it to be completed in phases as funding allows. Officials said $100,000 has been allocated this year specifically for the project.
Mayor pro tem Jeff Daugherty said the city purchased the Allen Canning and Star facility, at the intersection of North East Street and Commerce Street, for $250,000 about two years ago. The property came with a huge building, several smaller ones and 12 acres of property. City Manager Owen Scott said the purchase came with about 100,000 square feet of building space.
The city also has designated 21 acres of wooded land for a park adjacent to the canneries, officials said.
Daugherty said committees sent out surveys asking the public for input on what it would like to see and what it would use in the area. He said one was done by the Downtown Improvement Committee and another by the city’s parks board. But the project is managed by the Long Range Development and Revitalization of City Property Committee, which consists of 15 members from several other boards in the city including the parks board, downtown revitalization, planning and zoning and the city council.
Based on the survey responses, the city has finished most of the work on the first portion of the project —turning the old red brick Star Cannery building into a farmer’s market.
“The farmer’s market was a big thing,” said Daugherty, who is on the long range committee. “It came up in both surveys.”
Scott said the old brick building was probably built in the 1930s or 1940s. Once it closed, it became storage space for Allen Cannery, but after Allen’s closure in the 1990s it had been vandalized.
Mayor Robert Nelson said they hope to have the market up and running by the time growing season rolls around. He said while the physical work has been done, the city is still working on policies and procedures for its operation.
“What we are doing is looking at other cities that have the markets —how they function, if they charge, (and) how they charge,” he said.
Scott added bathrooms would need to be installed on the property.
“We could inherit money from that project, so to speak, depending on how much steel and tin costs,” Nelson said. “We will be content breaking even, but then again if the (sale) nets us $5, that’s fine. We didn’t have (it) before.”
The expansive building is constructed in three parts: a concrete structure that served as the company’s refrigerator, an area in the middle where production occurred and a large L-shaped warehouse on the east end of the building.
Scott said the city is envisioning making the middle area an open breezeway that connects the opposing two areas.
Daugherty said the committee has not pegged exactly what it will propose to council for the building’s use. He said in some places, the building has 20-foot ceilings. He said before the city bought it, it was used to store RVs, and an 18-wheeler can safely be driven and parked on the inside.
Officials said the building’s possibilities are almost endless.
Daugherty said it could be used for car shows, indoor sporting events or as a civic center, but the final decision on what is done will come to the city council and economic development board.
Daugherty said a concept for the 21-acre park has not been settled on either. He said the closest park is three miles outside city limits, and the surveys garnered a variety of responses on what residents would like to see in town.
He said walking trails were highly requested in both surveys, and the city is working to incorporate them into their final concept. Ball parks, a dog park, splash park and veterans memorial all have been proposed.
“My vision is that Lindale becomes the best city in East Texas to dine, shop and stay,” Nelson said.
Scott said the work will have to be done in phases. He said for this year, $100,000 has been allocated for the park project and another $70,000 for the Allen Cannery restorations.
“Right now we have ownership and a whole lot of work …” he said. “Every year we can see progress, and as the citizens see it happening, it’s easier (for the public) to get on board with it.”