As she gazed through the 10th-floor windows of the Kilpatrick Life Insurance Building, chef Debbie Fontaine imagined fine dining and fine living in a downtown Longview property.
“I want to move here. I just love it,” the Edible Arts bakery owner said. “My husband and I are empty nesters, and I always wanted a yard, but now I’m thinking I don’t know if I want to mow a yard until I’m 70 or 80.”
Fontaine was taking part Thursday in Imagine the Possibilities, a tour intended to showcase available properties in downtown Longview.
Hosts Verabank, the Texas Historical Commission, One Hundred Acres of Heritage and Longview Main Street program were counting on the tour to spur investment by local developers, residents or entrepreneurs who might want to live, do business or acquire property downtown.
Main Street Coordinator Melida Heien said her hope was to connect business owners with a property that might inspire their move into downtown.
“We did this last year, and we did get some new businesses from the tour, so you never know who’s here and what their vision is and what they want to do,” Heien said. “So it’s really just about trying to get people that realize there’s people that want them here to make their possibility a reality.”
Fontaine’s bakery already is near downtown on South Street. While she liked the smaller efficiency apartment spaces available on the Kilpatrick building’s fourth floor, she couldn’t help but imagine the 10th floor being brought back to life as a restaurant. The Summit Club opened in Longview in 1980 on the 10th floor of what is now the Kilpatrick building.
“This would be a really great five-star dining again — formal, five-star dining with a tearoom, dessert train, the three-tier with, like, 20 desserts on it,” she said. “People would pay to sit and have actual tea at 10 o’clock at night with all of those desserts.”
Tiffany Jehorek popped in to the Kilpatrick building from next door, where she serves as executive director of the Longview Museum of Fine Arts.
Jehorek also had designs on downtown living Thursday, especially with two other historic downtown buildings being converted in apartment complexes over the next two years.
“We’re about to embark on a reimagination of the front of our museum with Verabank’s help — more information coming on that really soon — and I really feel like downtown is about to change significantly in the next five to 10 years with the residential living,” Jehorek said.
“I do office next door, so I was imagining the possibilities,” she said.
Along with showcasing vacant or underused properties, the tour also highlighted downtowntx.org , a Texas Historical Commission website where people can find available downtown properties for sale or lease in Longview and 34 other cities.
According to the website, the former Summit II Building at 210 E. Methvin St. is the only building for sale in downtown Longview. Its price tag is $359,000.
Six downtown spaces are available for a business, five of which are located in the 100 block of West Tyler Street.
For information about downtown properties, contact Heien at (903) 239-5538 or email mheien@LongviewTexas.gov .