GRANTS MM 02

The historic Professional/SPJST building at 103 E. Central Ave. in Temple is pictured on Friday, April 5, 2019. The Temple City Council on Thursday awarded two grants for a pair of projects, one of which is for the downtown building. Michael Miller/Telegram

More housing and retail may be on its way to downtown Temple.

Arlington-based VKDM Investment is eyeing a redevelopment of the Professional Building, also known as the SPJST building, located at 103 E. Central Ave.

The developer plans to have commercial and retail space on the first floor while the remaining five floors would be reserved for apartments. The rooftop would feature a deck, a water feature and outdoor seating. The project is estimated to cost $3.8 million.

“The Professional Building definitely needs some change at this point,” Mayor pro tem Judy Morales said.

The Temple City Council — in a 3-0 decision on Thursday, with Mayor Tim Davis absent and one seat open due to a resignation — approved a $145,000 grant.

That is broken into two parts: $115,000 is a grant funded by the Downtown Strategic Investment Zone and the remaining $30,000 is from Community Development Block Grant funding for projects like this.

This was not the sole grant the City Council considered on Thursday. The other one was to improve the façade of the Express Employment building, 200 W. Calhoun Ave. The property owner, GZ Properties, sought a $34,717 grant.

“The SPJST building was the first grant that we received so if you awarded that at the full $145,000 … then you would not be able to award the Calhoun grant at the full amount they would be eligible for,” City Manager Brynn Myers said, explaining only $158,000 remained for these type of grants this year.

The City Council, in a separate 3-0 decision, approved a $12,989 grant for Express Employment’s planned improvements.

Myers recommended the City Council award a full grant to the Professional Building project. Councilwoman Susan Long asked the city manager to explain her reasoning for that suggestion.

Myers said it came down to the scale of the projects’ investments into the city: $3.8 million for the Professional Building proposal versus about $90,000 for Express Employment’s façade and landscape improvements.

“My recommendation is based upon incentivizing the larger project with a larger proportionate amount,” the city manager said.

Councilwoman Jessica Walker agreed with Myers’ assessment.

“First come, first serves sounds like the right thing to do,” Walker said.

“And the major impact,” Councilwoman Susan Long added.

Temple could benefit from both projects, Morales said. “The Professional Building is the one that needs it the most, and I really think it would have a bigger impact,” she said.