Downtown developments in Taylor, including hotels, get grants from city corporation

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Published on

Apr 29th, 2024

Claire Osborn

Austin American-Statesman

Two new mixed-use projects in Taylor involve renovating old buildings, including a church built in 1912, to revitalize the downtown area.

One of the developments, Talbot Commons, already has opened a boutique hotel in former Sunday school classrooms at what used to be the First Presbyterian Church at 114 W. Sixth St.

Another development, called the Pharmacy, is renovating a downtown building constructed in 1900 at 219-221 Main St. A coffee shop will be open there in May, a developer said.

Taylor’s Economic Development Corp. is giving a $200,000 infrastructure grant to Talbot Commons and a $125,000 infrastructure grant to the Pharmacy, according to a news release from the corporation.

“We believe our downtown is an important asset to our community,” Betty Day, the chair of the Taylor Economic Development Corp., said in the release. “We all want to see a vibrant downtown where people can shop, eat, work, and live.”

Taylor has a Main Street program that “strives to fill all downtown buildings with businesses and residents by prioritizing historic preservation, cultural experiences, community partnerships, and cultivated growth,” according to the city’s website.

The city has several buildings constructed in the 1800s and early 1900s in its relatively quiet downtown area. Its current population is more than 16,000 but is expected to grow because Samsung is building a $17 billion semiconductor facility in the area. President Biden on Monday announced up to $6.4 billion in grants to the South Korean company to expand chip production in the Austin area.

Talbot Commons’ 11-room boutique hotel is accepting reservations starting May 15, said Doug Moss, a general partner of Talbot Commons LLC. The renovated classrooms at the Talbot Pocket Hotel include reclaimed floors and modern furniture, Moss said.

“None of the 11 rooms are the same,” he said. “Some have little porches, some have lots of natural light, some face a courtyard, and some have kitchenettes.”

A coffee shop will open in part of the project in June, Moss said, and there will be space for restaurants. Moss said he plans to build a three-story, 17-unit apartment building in the former church’s parking lot with rents affordable to people with moderate incomes, including teachers.

Moss said he plans to develop 10 additional hotel rooms in a renovated home near the former church.

Talbot Commons will have outdoor spaces where people can gather, including the boutique hotel’s courtyard, which will be available to coffee shop customers. The apartments will have a courtyard around a large pecan tree.

Talbot Commons is about “improving a sense of place in Taylor and encouraging people to walk and ride bikes and encouraging the community to get together,” Moss said. He said he grew up in Taylor and now is based in Austin.

Ujjal Ghoshtagore, the developer of the Pharmacy project, said he “has a weakness for old buildings.” The project is named in honor of the former drugstore — Luhn & Johns — that was in the building, which was constructed in 1900.

A coffee shop and juice place will be open in May on the first floor of the building, he said.

A restaurant and a speakeasy will open on the first floor by late 2024, said Ghoshtagore, who is based in California. Retail space also will be available.

The second phase of renovation will include turning the second floor of the building into a boutique hotel, Ghoshtagore said. The first phase cost $5 million and the second will be $4 million, he said.

The building is at the corner of Second and Main streets, which is “basically the gateway to downtown Taylor,” said Monica Luxon, the building’s broker.

It will have historic touches, including cabinets from the former pharmacy that will be incorporated into the restaurant space, she said. In several years, Ghoshtagore said, he plans to construct residential units on top of the building in a way that will preserve its historical appearance.

“I’m intrigued by what could happen in Taylor,” he said. “They seem to be mindfully investing in downtown.”

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