Coffee, frozen yogurt, Mexican food, boutiques – downtown Belton is changing. Nestled within a few blocks around the courthouse, these new developments are attracting locals of all ages, and the change isn’t stopping here.
“The theme is progressing into the future while maintaining our historical roots and our connection to the past and building on that rich history that we have,” said Sam List, Belton city manager.
The progress has become evident in the last couple of months as several developments have popped up, leaving residents of the area wondering what is coming next.
One new business is the Weigh Station, a frozen yogurt shop owned and operated by Bret Dominguez.
“There’s nothing really in Temple or Belton … so I wanted to bring this to the area for the college students and for the high school students, just to give the community something different,” he said.
Offering eight flavors and 27 different toppings, the Weigh Station is ready to cater to any customer who stops in for a try and is already looking at increasing its ingredients list.
“We hope to increase our fruit amount. We’re buying locally the organic-grown fruit, so we go to a market for that,” Dominguez said.
The 10 percent off student discount isn’t the only thing that is drawing students in either; Dominguez is hoping to support campus groups.
“If there’s an organization that’s looking to make some money, we’re going to do what’s called a profit share,” he said.
“What they’ll do is they’ll make a flyer and give it to everyone that wants to come in for it and then whenever they come in, we’ll staple that flyer to their receipts and give them a percentage of the profits for that night,” Dominguez said.
Brickwood, a boutique with its main location in Temple, just opened a branch in downtown Belton across from the Weigh Station.
Manager Andrea Angelou explained the products that will be sold there soon. “We’re getting ready to do a whole line of UMHB stuff. We’re doing game day dresses, rain boots, a whole entire section just designated to UMHB,” she said.
Bodega Bean has continued to increase its appeal to students by adding a deck on the back of the building.
“If someone wants to have a bridal shower or birthday party, whatever event they want, we can set it up back there,” events coordinator Autumn Taylor said.
She also plans to use the new area to host louder bands on weekends, instead of having all concerts inside.
Listi explained that the growth, though new to the eyes of residents, has been in preparation for a while.
“The city developed a strategic plan back in 2001 that identified a lot of things like downtown revitalization as important,” he said.
He also gave insight into some projects that have been rumored around campus since before classes started back up, like The Beltonian.
Listi said, “A new person has bought it and they’re rehabbing it now and getting it ready for new use – probably weekend, old timey movies is what we’re hearing.”
Another interest in the developing area is the water access along Nolan Creek and the hike and bike trail running along its banks.
“We’ve received funding for the second phase of the Nolan Hike and Bike Trail …. It will come up by the College View apartments and connect to University Drive,” Listi said.
Although there are no concrete plans to make Nolan Creek a water recreation area, Listi said, “It’s a surprising possibility and opportunity that we might explore.
“Just a little bit of work would make that a feasible water recreation area. The area is about a mile and a half, and it takes about 40 minutes to kayak it.” he said. “We’ve talked about it with the Parks Board, and we’ll be talking about it with the city council to see if that is the direction we want to go.”
Central Avenue isn’t just booming with new businesses, but is in the process of getting a new look as well.
Listi said, “The city council really wanted to have a gateway entrance into downtown from the interstate. The idea there is to extend the brick pavers from downtown and the antique streetlights all the way to the interstate.”
He hopes the construction of the project will be finished by Thanksgiving. Bricks bought in honor of veterans will be dedicated in a ceremony on Veterans Day.
Listi certainly recognizes the need for something in Belton to interest students and is hoping the continued development will bring more people to the area.
He said, “The water recreation, the trail connection to the university and now with the retail coming downtown, we hope that linkage will be enhanced …. Come down and give the downtown area a try.”