With an eye toward bringing tourism to downtown Terrell, the City Council on Tuesday committed $400,000 for architectural services at the former Chapman Building on Moore Avenue.
When completed, the building will serve as the downtown wing of Terrell’s No. British Flying Training School Museum, which is located near the municipal airport.
The money, which was transferred to the city by a downtown tax incremental financing district, will pay $340,000 for services by commercial and preservation architect Mark Thacker, who will design a plan to renovate and convert the old building to a future downtown showplace.
City Manager Mike Sims told the council that when all is said and done, the overall cost of the project could approach $4.5 million.
The building originally housed the Muckleroy Hardware store. Later, two floors were added and it became a JCPenny store, and after that, a furniture store. In later year, it’s had only minor uses and suffers from dilapidation.
An examination has shown the building’s front to be “an unusable mess,” said Sims.
“We’re going to have to remove that entire front façade and have basically no front wall, and then reconstruct that whole thing. We knew when we acquired it there was a risk of that,” said Sims.
Despite all the work ahead and associated costs, Sims said the city stands by the idea that the building will be a “great home for a British-themed museum that we can bring to downtown.”
In acknowledging the steep architectural costs, Sims said that if the city intends to raise funds through donors “we’re going to have to be serious and have a full set of architectural plans so we can prove to a donor that they’re donating to something tangible.”
He added: “This is just one step on a long path to get a great tourist attraction downtown.”
Borrowing a statement that’s been used before, Councilman Tim Royce said, “This helps Terrell become a place to drive to, not a place to drive through.”