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.

Want to tell us about something we missed? Want to share your thoughts on the future of downtown Tyler? Shoot us an email.

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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 Executive Editor of The Tyler Loop, a nonprofit journalism startup that explores policy, history, and demographics in Tyler, Texas. She is an award-winning journalist who has reported for NPR, The New Yorker, the Atlantic, Mother Jones, and other national outlets. A former senior editor at NPR, she launched a popular podcast exploring issues of identity and race with NPR's Code Switch team. At Mother Jones, she specialized in data visualization and led a team that built the first-ever database of mass shootings in America. She's a pioneer in the field of data-driven digital storytelling, a frequent speaker on issues of digital journalism, and a die-hard fan of alt weeklies, where she got her start as a local reporter. She lives in Tyler with her husband, her stepson, 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 serves as the campus photographer and graphic designer at Kilgore College, and moonlights as a fine art photographer (complete with a master’s degree). 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 all anew.
Chris Groskopf is co-founder of The Tyler Loop and a member of its board of directors. He is a pioneer in the field of data-driven storytelling, having worked at The Chicago Tribune, NPR, and Quartz. In addition to his work as a journalist, Chris runs a software engineering team for Enigma, a New York City-based data technology startup.
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