A conceptual design for changes to the west side of Old Town Keller continues to gain momentum, and residents and business owners think it’s “about time” the area gets a much-needed makeover.The plan, which was recently discussed by City Council members, would add walking trails, parking spots, decorative lighting and maps in an effort to make the historical part of Keller more attractive and easier to navigate.The city conducted public hearings in April and May to hear feedback on what residents would like to see. Some of the most heard suggestions included streetscaping — changes to store fronts, sidewalks, lighting and other road-related improvements.Many of those suggestions were included in the conceptual design that was presented to City Council at its June 17 meeting.Early plans call for adding 158 parking spots, bringing the total to 400 for Old Town Keller West, which runs north from Bear Creek Parkway to Keller Parkway, and is bordered by the railroad tracks to the west and Whitley Road to the east. The area consists mostly of locally owned shops and restaurants.More than half of the new parking spots would be from Bates to Pecan streets the others on a planned expansion of Lamar Street, all of which are on the west side of Main Street, nearing the railroad tracks.Other plans call for an extension of a walking trail from Big Bear Creek to Taylor, Hill and Vine streets; provisions for cyclists on trails; adding Dumpster enclosures for businesses; and posting maps and business directories on several streets, complete with mail kiosks for easier delivery.“From public input and the council direction, it seems everyone’s pleased with the plan, but it’s not finalized yet,” said Jonathan Phillips, management assistant for Keller.According to information gathered at the two public hearings, noise control, clean and safe pathways and tree preservation were also suggested as ways to promote Old Town Keller as a “destination spot” for visitors.Business leaders in the historical district are hopeful the council will move forward with the project.“I can’t imagine being opposed to [the improvements]” Catherine Jackson, owner of Catherine Anne’s Books, said. “It’s what Old Town’s wanted for a long time. All of the town wants the atmosphere that brings to the city.”Newcomers FeedStore Barbecue, which will replace Up N Smoke, see it as a beneficial investment.“The idea of Old Town is great and would benefit all, but will take major investment. We are moving here commercially because we believe,” said owner Matt Lafavers, whose family owns and operates the original Feedstore Barbecue in Southlake.Council members recognized the importance of this project.“We know that the city’s priorities are Town Center and Old Town,” council member Bill Dodge said.Council member Rick Barnes said he likes the plan so far and wants to make sure the project follows through.“Actions speak louder than words,” Barnes said. “I hope we can move forward with feedback. It’s a gem in the making.”The next steps are finding a money source, generating cost estimates for the project and creating possible phases, Phillips said.
Taylor Prater, 817-390-7964 Twitter: @taylornprater