As the sun set Tuesday evening, downtown Temple was alive with music, the smell of fresh food and chattering voices.
More than 100 residents gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the recently completed Santa Fe Plaza.
To celebrate the occasion, the city invited residents to explore the revamped plaza and enjoy music and refreshments.
On top of activities, attendees at the celebration were encouraged to explore the new buildings that surround the plaza. Two office buildings, which anchor the development on the east and west sides, house the Temple Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Solutions of Central Texas and Temple Independent School District.
The Santa Fe Depot, with the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum inside, remains the centerpiece of the plaza.
While the official event started at 5 p.m., it was not until an hour later that the activities at the plaza really got started. This involved a performance by the Temple High School band and cheerleading squad, on top of presentations by the city and local groups related to the plaza project.
Temple Mayor Tim Davis, who spoke to the crowd of residents gathered for the event, said the work at the plaza was both needed and important for the city.
“Just two years ago in August, a number of us were standing in the corner of this lot with nothing around us,” Davis said. “Two years later, we are doing business in these buildings. We are doing things that are good for the city of Temple.”
Local residents who came out for the event were happy with the plaza changes and downtown Temple redevelopment.
Resident Debora Robbins said the change made to downtown Temple with the Santa Fe Plaza was “very much so” what she thought should be done with city funds.
“I never dreamed something like this would be here,” Robbins said, looking at the redeveloped plaza. “It is beautiful though, real beautiful.”
For some parents at the plaza, the whole Santa Fe experience worked well for both adults and children. Richard Ellis said that the layout of the new space and nearby buildings is improved with a wide open, green and inviting lawn between the two office buildings.
“I really like the layout,” Ellis said. “Instead of it being all cramped together, it has this wide open space. And I like how they made it more toward the community than just toward businesses.”
Temple City Councilwoman Susan Long said that this plaza redevelopment was executed with perfection. The plaza, with its unique ground-level water fountains, is attractive and drew dozens of residents Tuesday night.
“This is everything we wanted it to be when we started,” she said.