Years ago, the Schultz Lumber Company was the hub for growth in Irving, standing at the center of the city and owned by one of the co-founders of Irving. Today, the south Irving property where the lumber yard operated is largely undeveloped— an example residents point at to describe the need for development in the Heritage Crossing district.
Consultants have made pitches before for the area that includes the 3.5 acres near Rock Island Road and Main Street where the lumber company was. The most recent pitch featured commercial and residential development, but those designs could be years away, experts said.
Instead, three investors from Irving are proposing a short-term use for the area that they hope will attract visitors and jumpstart development downtown. The plan is for a farmers market, gourmet food truck, arts and crafts and entertainment destination they have dubbed “Whistle Stop Market,” a nod to the area’s close proximity to the railroad.
The investors have asked to remain unnamed until their plan goes before the Irving City Council, but the three longtime Irving residents said they’ve already started meeting with City staff about the project.
Susan Rose, communications director for the City of Irving, said staff is “looking at ways to move forward with a potential farmers market in Irving.
“The City of Irving encourages and supports development in the downtown area and this could include a farmers market,” she said.
Nearly 15 years ago, the Schultz property was willed to the University of Dallas. However, the school sold the land to the City. Whistle Stop investors are hoping the City will provide the land for the proposed market and possibly help with infrastructure development.
The market is proposed as a temporary use— for about five to 10 years, investors said. But they would want the market, including the gourmet food truck and vendor areas, to stay open three to five days a week, unlike other farmers markets that are only open on Saturdays.
The proposal includes plans for a dog park, a playground, a covered eating area, room for six to eight food trucks, a stage and tented areas. Plans also suggest renting out the facility for events. The market’s slogan is “all the bells and whistles.”
“We think this will be a place to connect,” one of the investors said. “It will be a place for the city of Irving to gather and have a good time together.”
The proposal is also a cooperative effort with the University of Dallas MBA graduate students. The students are studying the feasibility of the market.
For the investors, the next step will be to try to present to City Council, which could also first require a stop at the City’s zoning board.
“We need something in south Irving to stir the people up,” an investor said. “We have to build to bring people in. If we can get people walking the streets of downtown, enjoying the city, that’s our goal.”