Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 11, 2014

Old Main Street Market

Chandler group seeks approval to build historical venue

Chad Wilson
The Athens Review

Athens — Old Main Street Ice House was opened in Chandler late last year by the team of Stan Copeland, Don Copeland and Dale Barnes. Plans are underway for an Old Main Street Market to open on the same site in May.

Located at 105 Main Street just behind the new Kidd-Jones/Whataburger near the railroad tracks, the group is seeking to bring in several developments to help revive the downtown area of the city.

Stan Copeland appeared before the Chandler Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday and discussed the ongoing project while seeking advice on the development of the market.

“What we are building is more of a historical-type building. We don't have any masonry or meet the primary construction code of the city,” Copeland said. “I want to see if we are on the right track.”

Copeland said the ice house was considered phase one of the project while the market is phase two of a three phase project.

“We hope to build a basic, wood structure market. It would be a farmer's market with some office, restroom and storage space,” he said. “When you walkthrough the market, the brick wall, which will be in phase three, will be the shops. They will be mostly masonry in keeping with the codes. We hope to put a mural on that wall so when you are walking through the market you are actually looking at an old mural of the old tomato shed that used to stand on that property.”

Approval for the second phase is likely to come in February but Copeland used Tuesday's meeting to see if his plans were headed in the right direction.

Planning and zoning members voiced their desire to see Main Street be used for historical-type of construction and said it should not be an issue to use little masonry on the Old Main Street Market.

“I personally don't see any problem with it. It seems you are trying to keep the same aesthetic value in that area,” Felix Exelbierd said.

Phase three will be the Old Main Street Shops. It is projected as a mini-strip center that will include five to six retail spaces available to lease. Each unit is expected to be 24x30 feet with parking according to city code.

In the southeastern corner of the lot near Farm-to-Market Road 315 is a 8x15 foot ice vending machine. It includes graphic artwork depicting an old-time theme.

The ice machine features ice and purified water vending. Ice is freshly bagged and costs $2 for 22 pounds.  Water is available at 25 cents a gallon, five gallons for $1 or – in staying with the old market theme – “eight bits.”

The front of the machine faces Main Street while the east and west sides has artwork depicting the theme of the development.

“An icehouse once stood approximately where the new Whataburger will be,” Copeland wrote in a previous letter to planning and zoning. “The blocks of ice were used to cool iceboxes and for other personal use. Mrs. Flora Dean had a tin building cafe in that same proximity and she chipped ice with a pick to put in glasses of tea that were served with a country lunch for a buck or two and made a hamburger that Whataburger would envy.”

The market shed will be a 29x75 foot building constructed from materials salvaged from the old fertilizer building in Brownsboro and the original Chandler tomato shed.

“A tomato shed once stood on the Main Street property,” Copeland wrote. “There is a picture on the city website of citizens of Chandler packing tomatoes in the shed, which was probably taken in the 1930s. The tomato shed was torn down and Mr. Jim Fitzgerald purchased a portion of the wood with which he built a barn. When Mr. Randy Parker purchased a portion of the property I asked permission to tear the barn down and I have stored it for three years.”

The office is expected to be occupied daily and the produce market will be open year-round, likely starting in May 2014. Spaces will be rented daily from April to November to farmers and crafters.

“This will create a very well presented and controlled homegrown and homespun market that will be an attraction to the city,” Copeland wrote. “There will be ample storage to be able to store the produce market and thus use the pavilion for a bandstand or other outdoor presentations.”

Phase three is expected to be constructed at a later date and the buildings will keep with the old market look. Once complete, the lot should have between 25-30 parking spaces.

Most of Chandler’s downtown area was destroyed by a tornado in 1965. Copeland’s dream is to develop a downtown area near Main Street and FM 315 that will be a city attraction.

The annual Pow Wow was held in the downtown area when it originated as were other successful city events.

“Can we imagine the Pow Wow, street dances, reunions and other events that brought people to town happening again? Surely if Ben Wheeler can do something progressive and attractive, Chandler can do something better and bigger in a much more visible location,” Copeland wrote. “This project could have a purpose beyond commerce; it could be a community gathering place, a larger attraction for East Texans and serve to help share our town’s story with generations to come.”