‘Home Improvement’ comes to Brownwood

Steve Nash/Brownwood Bulletin

Borrowing from the 1990s television sitcom “Home Improvement,” Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes touted Brownwood’s improvements of the past year and looked ahead to what’s planned in the coming year.
Haynes also announced the name of the restaurant that will occupy the Texas FunCo building, 101 Fisk, in downtown Brownwood. The restaurant will be called Providencia and will be owned by the same people who own CanCun Bar and Grill in Midland, Haynes said.
Providencia will be “very, very similar” to the Midland restaurant, Haynes said.
Haynes began his presentation at Howard Payne University’s Mabee Center by asking City Manager Emily Tipton and economic development director Ray Tipton to talk about the accomplishments of the city’s departments.
After Haynes returned to the microphone, the major noted additional developments including:
• Tea2Go will open in the building formerly occupied by the Common Grounds coffee shop on Austin Avenue.
• The old Kroger building has been acquired in the last three months. The developer is working on a letter of intent with potential clientele.
• OYO Hotel was foreclosed on in September in a tax closure by a tax lender. Haynes said there is a six-month right of redemption. Once that right of redeemer passes, if the property is not redeemed, the developer plans to raid it and build new facilities in its place.
• Three industrial projects are underway. “It is unusual for us to have three significant industrial relocation or expansion projects, we’re hoping by this time next week we’ll be able to announce those,” Haynes said.
The city will develop a downtown master plan. “We have to start thinking about something differently downtown … what are we going to do with parking?” Haynes said. “What are we going to do with landscaping? What are we going to do with overhead utilities? How are we going to provide a more aesthetic environment for downtown?
“When we have these mass events downtown, how do we manage the crowd? How do we have those events we all love without shutting down businesses and hurting businesses? Those are the kinds of things we’re looking at on the downtown master plan.”
• The city received a $100,000 donation to install all-inclusive playground equipment.
• Tennis courts at Coggin Park are getting new fencing, new covering and new lighting, and one of the courts will be changed into a pickleball court.
• Also at Coggin Park, the walking trail has deteriorated. And will be replaced. Portions that are concrete will remain but the old cinder part of the track will be replaced with “a nice clean concrete trail.”
• The city will use a portion of COVID relief funds for a road project at Riverside Park.
• The city is considering renovating the Bennie Houston Recreation Center.
Haynes talked about other public works projects including the construction of the city’s Event Center, improvements to the Brownwood Coliseum and expansion of the landfill.
Haynes noted additional developments in businesses including Common Grounds, Boot Barn, Home2Suites, Freddy’s Frozen Custards, TJ Maxx, Take 5 Oil Change, Parachute Plasma and AccelHealth, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Lucille + Mabel, Over the Rainbow, Grazed and Confused, Urban Roots , the Ax House, Twisted Axes, Luna Maya, Baked Artisan Goods, High Vibes Emporium and Grits and Grace Boutique.
“It just seems to me, that even though the number of business openings may have been similar to past years, the types of businesses that opened, the visibility of businesses that opened, was much more visible and much more exciting,” Haynes said. “We saw the soft good stores that were opening in Brownwood, people who were selling clothes and things that we haven’t seen in a really long time.”
Regarding Home2Suites, which is under construction on property behind Studabaker’s on East Commerce, Haynes said the long-vacant property had been “an eyesore.”
“To see that a lot of being built into something that’s going to be a nice new structure, I think is really, really encouraging,” Haynes said.
“It’s important, for economic development, that when people come through town, they see new things being built, and it makes a difference.”