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Shops, restaurant, apartments coming to downtown Orange
ORANGE - by Lauren Huet
The Riverfront Pavilion and Boardwalk in Orange will soon have nearby shops, a restaurant, and loft apartments. It's the first phase in a developer's plans for downtown Orange.
Michael Wray grew up in Orange. Now, he's the Managing Principal for developer, Brazos Urban Real Estate in Austin.
"This is originally the Southern Printers building," said Wray, pointing to the building on 5th Street and Front Street. "It's been here for about 100 years. We're going to keep the original facade of the building."
Wray wants to do for downtown Orange what he's done for larger communities like Houston and Austin.
"We're going to create lofts, apartment lofts on the second floor. The first floor will have an office component, and then a restaurant and retail component. We'll expand out to the left and add a courtyard and a pavilion, and inside will be sort of a French market," said Wray.
Brent Norwood and his wife will own the new restaurant, the Boardwalk Market.
"It's going to be a combination coffe house, old fashioned ice cream parlour to fit the motif, and seafood restaurant," said Norwood.
Norwood and his wife are passionate about redeveloping downtown Orange.
"I've been coming down here since I was a kid, and been seeing this building since I was a kid, and it's something that's very emotional and passionate for both of us," said Norwood.
Tuesday morning, Orange's Economic Development Board approved 350 thousand dollars worth of incentives for phase one of the development. Orange City Council approved it hours later.
"It creates an opportunity to generate sales tax, to add to the property base and specifically to add a quality of life attraction in downtown Orange," said the Director of the Economic Development Corporation, Jay Trahan.
After finishing phase one, Brazos Urban Real Estate hopes to develop future phases down the street, all the way to Lamar State College.
"Over about a seven to ten year period, depending on the market and how the area is received, you could have 10 to 15 million dollars of investment fairly easily," said Wray.
Investment, with the goal of attracting money and people downtown.
"I would love to have people living down here again, and for downtown to be a focus in Orange again," said Norwood.
Wray says Brazos Urban will invest at least one million dollars into completing phase one. He says the first floor should be finished this fall and the loft apartments should be finished next spring.
Trahan says there is a four month timeline on completing the first floor. The proposed opening of the first floor restaurant and shops is January 2015.