Map: How downtown Tyler is being recycled and rebuilt

Nearly a year since we first launched this map to help Tylerites keep track of big developments downtown, there has been little to no progress on several big, ambitious residential projects. But commercial offerings continue to expand, and free parking at Fair Plaza seems to have paid off.

When we first launched this map nearly one year ago, a wave of exciting new residential projects had just been announced. There was the enormous, ambitious plan for high-end apartments on the barren former King Chevrolet lot. An upstart, little-known company called Invest in Tyler had bought up major downtown properties and was promising to give them new life. Spring Avenue, east of the courthouse, was due to get new lofts in the old New York Store. The once-glamorous Carlton Hotel was apparently being rescued by a Dallas-based developer, who planned to put in yet more lofts.

Eleven months later, Invest in Tyler has put several downtown properties up for sale—one building is gutted and exposed to the elements, to the alarm of local architects—and says it’s focusing elsewhere. The old King Chevrolet lot remains empty; its developer plans to make progress on a new midtown apartment complex first, and then break ground downtown. The Dallas developer who bought The Carlton missed construction deadlines, and the city hopes a new buyer will emerge.

While residential living hasn’t expanded downtown over the past year, surprising new commercial projects have emerged, most notably the renovation of the iconic Plaza Tower, which will include a new True Vine taproom. Mayor Heines’s real estate company is creating an assortment of new retail opportunities in the old Barham’s Antiques building. The promise of free parking in the Fair Plaza garage appears to have paid off, if the The Foundry’s decision to repurpose its parking lot and install a large patio is any indication. And a big, bold proposal for a totally redefined downtown Tyler has earned fans across Tyler and beyond over the past year—read our interview with the architects behind “the Fitzpatrick plan.” 

Will all this activity going on, it can be hard to keep track. The Tyler Loop has put together this guide to major downtown developments since the start of 2016, and we’ll continue updating over time. Click a location to read about it, or just scroll down.

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First published July 5, 2018, with additional reporting by Erin Hancock.

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Yasmeen Khalifa, a Loop 2019 summer intern, is a Mass Communication and English student at the University of Texas at Tyler. She is the managing and lifestyle editor of The Patriot, a student-run newspaper investigating issues on- and off-campus, exploring the changing East Texas culture, and giving students a voice. Khalifa recently co-founded a new music series in The Patriot titled “Music in the Pines: Exploring Eclectic East Texas.” The series highlights local musicians, venues, concerts and other events as the music scene in East Texas evolves and thrives. Yasmeen also works as a lab technician in the Mass Communication department. Khalifa is the founding president of the Keep Tyler Beautiful Youth Advisory Committee, a group of students working together to encourage beautification, litter reduction and recycling in Tyler.
Tasneem Raja is the Editor-in-Chief of The Oaklandside. A pioneer in data journalism and local nonprofit news startups, she co-founded The Tyler Loop, a nationally recognized community news platform in East Texas. She was a senior editor at NPR's Code Switch and at Mother Jones, where the team she led helped built the first-ever database of mass shootings in America. She started her career as features reporter at The Chicago Reader and The Philadelphia Weekly, and lives in Oakland with her husband and two imperious terriers.
An East Texas native, Jamie Maldonado has worked as a visual journalist and copy editor for the Longview News-Journal, The Denver Post and other publications. He is a professional photographer and creates YouTube content about film photography. Taking to heart Dorothea Lange’s quote, “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera,” Jamie has turned his lens on his hometown and its people to see it anew.
Chris Groskopf is co-founder of The Tyler Loop and present deputy editor for graphics and interactives at FiveThirtyEight. He is a pioneer in the field of data-driven storytelling, having worked at The Chicago Tribune, NPR, and Quartz. @onyxfish