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'A central place'

Early announces plans to build town center

Special to the Bulletin
An aerial view looking west down Early Boulevard shows a portion of the site where a town center in Early is proposed.
The 57-acre site off Early Boulevard stretches between the Pecan Bayou and County Road 381.

EARLY — The City of Early's Facebook page has depicted plans to build a town center.

From the Facebook page:

Picture the future of Early, Texas. What do you see? New stores, new parks, new housing? While all of that is true, the City of Early is working on something much larger. Now look at Early today. What is it missing? A town center? Yes, that is correct. The City of Early currently does not have an official town center, so the plans to construct one is underway. 

 “The City of Early really lacks a Town Center area because it is a relatively young city. It was incorporated in the 50s and there was never really a town square or any historical buildings. So, Early has always had this desire to have a town center or a central place where people can dine, shop and have recreation,” Early City Administrator Tony Aaron said.  

The town center will be located behind the businesses that stretch from Humphrey Pete’s to the CEFCO gas station on Early Boulevard. Stretching from the Pecan Bayou to CR 381 there is a plot of 57 acres of land that has caught the attention of the city for quite some time and was recently purchased by the Early Municipal Development District.

“The city has always looked at this property that the MDD has recently purchased as a possible expansion area that could possibly bring in additional commercial and residential areas and then become that town center,” Aaron said.

The land is split into two very different but equally important sections. One half is inside the flood-plain, however, it is being looked at as land that would be perfect for amenities including a park, a possible par 3 golf course and walking trails. There are many possibilities of land use for this section of the acreage. The second half of the land is above the flood plain and separated by a large pond on the property. In this section is where you would find the City Hall, town homes, commercial businesses and other offerings.

“It’s right on the edge of our commercial corridor, it has a lot of trees, it has some water features, it has everything that would really provide for a good canvas to paint that vision,” Aaron said.

The city is in the early stages of conceptual design for this town center. The graphic shows what the city has planned so far, in regards to the layout of the land. The process of building a town center will take some time but very important steps have already been taken.

Plans to build a road behind the businesses off of Early Boulevard will begin very shortly. A short road currently exists just behind the CEFCO gas station but quickly comes to a dead end. The city plans on extending that road out, all the way to Humphrey Pete’s. This road will make it easier for getting in and out of some of those businesses and alleviate some of the traffic on Early Boulevard. 

“We hope to make that road very ‘walkable’ with sidewalks and lamp post lighting. Towards the end of the road as you get closer to the bayou, we would like to add some nice public parking that will allow for overflow parking for our business along Early Blvd and allow for buses or trucks with trailers to have a place to park making it easier to patron our local restaurants and shops,” Aaron said. 

This road will mark the beginning of the town center development and the road is expected to be completed by April of 2021. The parking lot will also act as the beginning of a trail head that will feature a nice walking trail. The walking trail will run along the Pecan Bayou amongst the pecan groves that have been around for many years. 

Now moving up to the other side of the property, we can envision the town center itself. The plan for this area is to include town home-style housing surrounded by great shopping with sidewalks on every street making it easy to walk from business to business. 

“There’s plenty of room in that upper area, towards Old May Road, to really make this happen and we are really excited about just having the land that allows us to continue to grow,” Aaron said.

He added there is plenty of commercial and residential growth here, and this is just another opportunity to see that growth continue. The city’s hope is that these plans for a town center will show developers the city is receptive to growth and that there is a vision and a distinct image of the future for the City of Early.