The overall plan for the Entertainment District within the Main Street overlay centers around the future renovation of the Crim Theater into, perhaps, a performing arts venue, active movie theater or a similar, multi-purpose use.
"The Shakespeare festival could go in there," Chaffin explained. Concurrently, across the street, "We're looking at possibly 'selling' the Texan, doing a (Request for Proposal) and bringing in something that would complement the (Crim) and that would create that night life that we're looking for downtown."
Surveyed visitors to the Kilgore News Herald's candidate forum in May, which featured the two theaters, said they preferred a "honky tonk" style of business in the Texan, one that would be familyfriendly and include dancing, pool tables and similar activities.
"I think that could be a real catalyst for development, for something real good to happen at the Texan," Stanglin said.
"We need something that is going to put heads in beds and get people into downtown Kilgore," David agreed.
With the theaters as the district's anchor, the city could encourage evening and late-night activity that would become a boon for existing retailers and restaurants while creating a draw for new development.
The first step, however, would be to establish the boundaries of the Entertainment District and the associated regulations, building use restriction, construction guidelines, mandatory operating hours (i.e. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and other particulars, Chaffin said. No such entertainment-oriented guidelines currently exist here.
"If we want to guide what it's going to be, we have to have the district created," Chaffin said.
"We need to move on that," Bustin agreed.
The planned footprint of the district includes property between Commerce and Rusk Street, stretching northeast from Danville Street to just past the Crim Theater along South Kilgore Street.
According to Chaffin, any plans for the area, especially potential construction restrictions, must begin with a discussion between the city and Dr. Charles Whiteside, who owns the majority of the vacant property adjacent to the old Kilgore Post Office and neighboring buildings.
Currently, Chaffin noted, Whiteside's plans for the property focus on apartments, less than an ideal for an area geared toward entertainment. "It's entertainment district. That implies late nights," Bustin agreed. "Does that exclude housing?" It may or may not, Chaffin said, depending on the form the district's guidelines take.
The city's noise ordinance, for example, would limit activity if the area includes residential units, David said.
"I could foresee that, maybe, being problematic," she said, especially if the future buyer of the Texan wants to feature live music. "I would hate to get them down here then restrict their ability to entertain."
Contacted Friday, Whiteside said he's reluctant to invest in anything entertainment oriented, but if that's the direction the city is going, he'll step out of the equation.
"I'm not interested in getting into the entertainment business," he said. Any development on his South Kilgore Street Property is on hold until his planned apartments on Lantrip Street are complete; if entertainment oriented restrictions are put in place in the meantime, it's up to the city's planners to determine how to proceed.
"If they want to do that,
I'll sell them the property and let them develop it." Writing the new guidelines from scratch and drawing from other communities' codes, Chaffin said she is considering everything from street setback to building height, landscaping, broad design schemes, architectural styles for new construction and more, but nothing is concrete. She'll continue work on the draft document for presentation to the advisory board, and ultimately the city council, in February.
"I don't think we have to get too proscriptive," Stanglin said. "What I'd like to see is options. I think we're all on board conceptually."
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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