Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
City leaders are hoping the sale of about 20 acres of residential land in the Heritage Crossing will spur development in the downtown district and give life to a long dormant plan to revitalize the area.
The City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to begin taking bids on the sale of 20 acres of land.
“It’s been a long time in the making,” Council member Rose Cannaday said. “This is really exciting that we are taking a step forward.”
The Council’s vote also puts up a commercial building at 222 E. Irving Blvd. for sale, which will be offered on the market separately from the residential property. The residential property will be sold in “packages,” and not as a whole to a single developer, said Doug Janeway, chief development officer for the City’s real estate and development department.
The City Council would still have to approve the sales at later Council meetings.
The intention is for developers to snap up the property and build new townhomes and single family houses - something citizens have long asked for.
“This has opened up the lines of communication,” Council member Michael Gallaway said. “I think that’s one of the biggest things the Heritage Crossing has suffered from. I want to thank the neighborhood association for hanging in there with us.
“We’re down that road and hopefully we’re going to see something very productive in the downtown area,” he said.
The Council’s action is the latest in an effort to redevelop and transform the Heritage Crossing district, but it isn’t the first time a project has promised change. In 2008, developer Delbert McDougal released plans to gut Heritage Crossing and revamp it with new offices, parking garages and apartments.
But the plan never gained traction or support from the public, and last year, the City stopped work with the developer.
In November, the Council hired consulting firm Gateway Planning to come up with a new redevelopment plan. Its first public meeting drew about 100 people where Gateway executives spent more than two hours discussing possible improvements to the area.
Gateway Planning will present its recommendations to the City Council on Feb. 28.
“This is to get some of the development underway that the Council and community have been asking for,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said. “Obviously the community and this Council are very ready for some development.”