Arts center to fill entertainment function of Old Town Coppell

The Coppell Arts Center's completion in May will mark the final leg of construction in the city's old town area. (Rendering courtesy city of Coppell)
The Coppell Arts Center's completion in May will mark the final leg of construction in the city's old town area. (Rendering courtesy city of Coppell)

The Coppell Arts Center's completion in May will mark the final leg of construction in the city's old town area. (Rendering courtesy city of Coppell)

Image description
Image description
Well before Coppell’s historic old town was decked with the boutique storefronts, townhomes and restaurants it is known for today, it housed a small rail depot in the mid-19th century and was known as the town of Gibbs.

“Where the farmers market is and the new [Coppell] Arts Center is going up, that was never anything but just a cotton field actually when I was a kid,” said Wheelice Wilson, president of the Coppell Historical Society, which has tracked the city’s early days, including its eventual name change to Coppell.

Fast forward to 2007, when plans for developing the area surfaced, Coppell City Council zoned 17 acres as historic and soon began approving overall site plans.

The city’s yearslong push to revamp its historic downtown district is now nearing completion with the $18 million Coppell Arts Center expected to open in May.

The center will centrally house five of the city’s arts organizations. It will also include a main hall, a black box theater and a reception hall and will cater to a variety of events, said Alex Hargis, Coppell Arts Center managing director.“This building will be a nice capstone to Coppell’s evolution in the last 20 years,” Hargis said. “It has become not only a great place to raise a family, but it has been a great melting pot of different diversities and cultures.”


The Coppell Chamber of Commerce, which is also housed in old town, sees the arts center as a chance to attract more visitors to shop and dine there.

“We’re very excited about the art center coming,” chamber President Ellie Braxton-Leveen said. “We really think it’s going to boost a lot of business for the old town area as well as Coppell as a whole.”

Development of the area


Part of the city’s efforts to build Old Town Coppell included relocating and refurbishing some of the historic structures to create a heritage park.

“The first thing that came in there was a windmill,” Wilson said. “Not too long after that, when the Minyard’s family corporation ... was going out of business, they wanted to donate a little store.”

The refurbished Minyard store and windmill now stand beside some of the older structures, such as the Kirkland House, which was built in 1904 and moved to its current location in 2011.

City Council approved an overall site plan for the old town area in 2010, according to city records. Soon after came the construction of the central square and playground area, rows of townhomes, new road construction, and the restaurant and retail storefronts.

“That full vision of [Old Town Coppell] was that you would have residential; you would have retail; and you’d have dining, and then you would have this nightlife entertainment component, so it was all self-sustaining,” Hargis said.

Michele Cramer relocated her business, Let It Shine Boutique, to Old Town Coppell in 2015 when she was referred by a friend to the area. She and other local business owners see the addition of the arts center as a chance to tap into a different client base.

“We will be starting our fifth year [in February],” Cramer said. “We are super pumped about the art center coming in. It definitely is going to bring ... a very eclectic mix of people down.”



Final leg of construction


When the arts center opens in May, it will include a 440-seat main hall, a 196-seat black box theater, an outdoor community stage and a sculpture garden.“It is a place for local art to be presented here to give [artists] a platform to grow,” Hargis said. “So you can see your local theater company ... and visual arts, but then also taking that downtown experience and bringing it right down the street.”

While the managers at the arts center work to bring in performers and visitors alike to old town, Braxton-Leveen said her primary goal is attracting weekday business travelers and corporate employees.

“They don’t know what restaurants are here,” Braxton-Leveen said about the shops and restaurants in the area. “They don’t know about the farmers market. ... We as a chamber are focusing more on the business side.”Hargis said the arts center’s uses will include food and drink tastings, weddings and free outdoor music events. In fact, the center was designed with providing space for multiple art mediums in mind.

“The big five as we call them are our resident companies,” Hargis said. “It includes Theatre Coppell, the Coppell Community Chorale, the Coppell Community Orchestra. You’ve got the Ballet Ensemble of Texas, and then you have Coppell Creatives, which is the visual art wing of the community.”

Wilson also serves as the president of the Coppell Arts Council, which is the organizational body behind the five resident groups. Wilson said he sees the construction of the new center as a pinnacle achievement.

“When we solidified the idea of a new arts center, it took on its own life,” he said. “It became a real arts center, you know, for visual arts, performing arts and even outside groups.”

Hargis emphasized that his team is working to ensure the arts center serves both as a local entertainment destination as well as an events space for those outside groups.

“It’s got to be a place for the fine arts, but then it also is like a commercial facility,” Hargis said. “We want to bring people together ... providing a place for the suburbs to come ... and enjoy entertainment and just redefining what people’s standards are, what local entertainment is.”
By Gavin Pugh
After reporting for Community Impact Newspaper's Plano paper for over two years, Gavin launched the Coppell, Valley Ranch and Las Colinas edition in October 2019. As editor, Gavin's beat includes transportation, municipal government, education and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.


MOST RECENT

The Texas Workforce Commission's phone and online systems have been overwhelmed as measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus continue to have a crippling effect on the economy. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More Texans have filed for unemployment in past three weeks than in all of 2019

For the second week in a row, more than 6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, according to federal data.

Texas Central claims the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded, and the train would transport 6 million annual riders by 2029. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)
State legislators request federal officials halt activity on Texas Central's high-speed rail project

Dozens of elected officials representing Texas requested the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao put an end to activity related to Texas Central’s high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston.

Legacy ER & Urgent Care co-founder Dr. Jay Woody said those hurt in household accidents should not delay in seeing a doctor. (Courtesy Legacy ER & Urgent Care)
Legacy ER advising those with medical issues unrelated to coronavirus to not delay doctor visits

Dr. Jay Woody said those that are sick or hurt should not delay in seeing a doctor.

Venue Verona Villa is located on Dallas Parkway. (Courtesy Verona Villa)
ROUNDUP: DFW businesses, ISDs respond to outbreak

Here are five stories on how business and school districts in the metroplex are adapting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Area chief appraisers struggle to meet tax calendar deadlines under stay-at-home orders

Property owners typically begin receiving assessed value notices in the mail around this time each year. Already, the region’s largest districts have announced the delay of those letters until the end of April or middle of May.

Plano ISD trustees on March 15 agreed to continue paying district employees as schools close in response to new coronavirus outbreaks across the country. (Daniel Houston/Community Impact Newspaper)
5 of the latest coronavirus updates from the DFW area

Catch up on some of the latest coronavirus-related developments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area below.

Bendt Distilling Co. is making free hand sanitizer for the community and first responders. (Courtesy Bendt Distilling Co.)
Masks and sanitizer: DFW businesses contribute to community health care

Here are nine stories about how metroplex establishments are stepping up to support health care workers and community members amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Abbott's order closes all state parks and historical sites effective 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Abbott closes state parks, historical sites due to coronavirus concerns

Abbott said the closure is to help prevent large gatherings and strengthen social distancing.

VIDEO: Texas Tribune interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar about the coronavirus's effects on the state economy

At 8 a.m. April 7, The Texas Tribune will host a live interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, conducted by Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.

Medical professionals from Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Centennial in Frisco received a donation of masks and assorted goodies from Two Men and A Truck on April 3. (Courtesy Two Men and A Truck)
April 6: 6 coronavirus stories DFW-area readers should know

Here are six Dallas-Fort Worth-area Community Impact Newspaper stories regarding the coronavirus that readers might have missed.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins attempted April 5 to quash any confusion surrounding the county's position on use of the Dallas convention center as a popup coronavirus hospital. (Screenshot courtesy FOX 4 News)
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins addresses letter from Abbott's office threatening to relocate popup COVID hospital

Dallas County is feverishly working to ready the convention center for use despite claims that resources are not wanted, County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

The American Red Cross is urging people to continue donating blood to avoid any shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
American Red Cross avoids near-shortage of blood donations, urges donors to keep scheduling appointments

When concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak started to rise to new levels in the nation in March, thousands of blood donors canceled appointments with the American Red Cross.