TYLER — Tyler native Cole Ihrig and his family say they are excited to be a part of the continued revitalization efforts in downtown.
Ihrig, his wife, Maggie, and her parents have plans to redevelop a vacant downtown building that once housed a soul food cafe, at 403 N. Spring Ave., to provide family housing and office space.
Ihrig, a commercial real estate agent with Patterson Commercial Property Group, said the project is still in its early phases he waits on architectural plans.
“We are excited about this project and to have the opportunity to redevelop the building into a mixed use property,” he said.
He said they hope to have three or four rental apartment units for families, including one he hopes can be used as an Airbnb rental. The front corner of the one-story building will be an office.
Russell Patterson, owner of Patterson Commercial Property Group, represented the seller of the building, and Ihrig said he realized how interesting the building is.
“It’s pretty neat, and it’s got the exposed brick walls, and I just felt like it could be a cool thing to add to downtown,” he said. “There’s just so much going on (downtown), and we were just jumping at the opportunity and seeing if we could join in and help bring (the building) back.”
Ihrig, who graduated from Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Catholic School in 2012, said he and his wife were high school sweethearts and went to the University of Alabama together. The couple moved back to Tyler four years ago and have two young children.
“I love downtown. When we moved back to this building, I was excited, and I grew up not far from here,” he said. “I love the brick streets. My wife loves it here.”
He noted how much redevelopment and revitalization activity is going on downtown, such as Sam Scarborough’s apartments under construction at 527 W. Erwin St.
“I think things are expanding and felt like it was a good spot,” Ihrig said. “My wife, she’s got a talent for picking out things that go.”
Ihrig said he represented the buyer, JC Real Estate Investments, LLC, which includes himself, his wife and his in-laws.
The plans are try to make the structure as “urban and upscale” as possible without changing too much, such as maintaining the exposed ceiling and brick walls, he said.
“The two of us are doing this with my in-laws. She and I are 50-50 partners with them, and we’re excited to get in and do something,” Ihrig said. “I’m hoping for a real cool turnout with it. We are going to have to pull things out, and there will be some new things, but we’re trying to keep it as fitting with downtown as we can. We want to keep the historic value as much as we can.”
He also wanted to add to the amount of housing opportunities in downtown Tyler.
“There’s a lot of people that do live downtown, but I’ve heard it’s a hard place to lease down here. I felt like there was a need,” Ihrig said.”You’ve three multi-story office buildings for lease (nearby). So I didn’t want to make it more office. I just felt like this front corner would be cool to have an office retail set-up, maybe someone like an insurance agent or an attorney that needs a drive-up area for people to come in.”
Amber Varona, city of Tyler Main Street director, said city officials are glad to see the new development and momentum in downtown.
“Most vacant buildings in the area have started the revitalization process or have plans to start soon,” she said. “Downtown will look completely different in just a few years, and we cannot wait.”
Ihrig said the plan is to have the development complete by next spring, and he should have a better timeline as architectural drawing and contractor bids come in. Each apartment will have its own door for people to walk straight in.
“I like the proximity to these (neighboring) buildings, to the square. I felt it’s close to walking distance and off-street parking there so people won’t have to park on the street,” he said. “It seemed like a good opportunity. I’m excited to get the ball rolling and get construction going.”