City Officials announce new conference center
Along with restoration of historic Mayfair performing arts venue at Rose Complex
At a press conference held today, City of Tyler Mayor Martin Heines and former mayors Barbara Bass, Joey Seeber and Kevin Eltife announced the City’s intent to reconstruct the Harvey Hall conference facility at the Rose Garden Complex, as well as revitalize the historic Mayfair, a performing arts venue built in 1927 that, in its heyday, hosted the likes of Elvis and Johnny Cash.
“Together, these Mayors laid the foundation for this project over the last twenty-five years,” said City Manager Ed Broussard. “Each one has moved this project forward, taking the necessary steps to bring us here today.”
With more than thirty-thousand rose bushes and more than five hundred different varieties from all over the world, the Tyler Rose Garden is the number one tourist attraction for the City of Tyler and the reason Tyler is called the “Rose Capital of America.” At present, however, a crumbling parking lot, older convention center and vacant buildings are the gateway to Tyler’s crown jewel.
“Harvey Hall, the Tyler Rose Garden and Visitor’s Center host hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, creating a massive economic impact on our community,” said Mayor Martin Heines. “It is time to invest into the Rose Complex, which is in dire need of redevelopment.”
Current conference facilities at the location are outdated and floorplans are not adequate to service modern conference needs. Per the study done as part of the Rose Complex Master plan, renovations would not provide the functionality that is needed. The cost to renovate the existing building is near the amount of replacement.
In addition to the new conference facilities and the restoration of the Mayfair, the implementation plan includes internal street improvements, parking lot improvements and additions, site enhancements and the construction of a new community park. The Tyler Rose brand will be featured prominently throughout.
“The great thing about the Rose Complex is that it is not North Tyler, it is not South Tyler, it is not Downtown Tyler; it is just Tyler,” said former mayor Joey Seeber. “It is a place we come together as a community, that we engage as a community and we get to celebrate our community.”
Action will be taken at the November 12 city council meeting to appoint a design team. Funding will come from monies set aside from the Hotel Occupancy Tax, the Half-Cent Sales Tax Fund and private donations.
The City is projecting to finish design of phase one in 2020, break ground in 2021 and complete in 2022 or 2023. However, all timelines are flexible and dependent on external factors.
In 2016, the City of Tyler began working on a master plan for the area, a guiding document for the future of the complex. A steering committee led by former State Senator Kevin Eltife (and former City of Tyler Mayor) and comprised of community leaders from different industries, experiences, and backgrounds worked with Halff Associates to be a sounding board for the master planning process.
“It’s amazing to think that all the property owners in this area had never sat down together before to figure out how we could, collectively, do a better job restoring and utilizing this space,” said Managing Director Stephanie Franklin. “This process brought everyone to the table.”
Consultants held more than twenty meetings with stakeholder groups, as well as public meetings to review several different plan options for the area.
“This master plan refocused us as a community on what makes Tyler unique and why people want to visit our city,” said Franklin.