If her vision for a two-block area of downtown Beeville is realized, that focal point will be just west of North Washington Street.
The south side of the 200 block of West Bowie was, for decades, a string of historic old, brick buildings that, for the most part, had become the home of some of the city’s most rundown beer joints.
Hughes showed the council an architect’s drawing of “Bar Row” and began to explain what the area eventually will become.
She said she bought most of the buildings on the south side of the 200 block of West Bowie and her friend, Jessy T. Garza, bought what was left.
She said she also has purchased the former Skidmart building and a lot across the street from that.
Since buying the property, Hughes said she has had every building gutted, most of the spaces reroofed and extensive renovations done to the building facades.
The former restaurant building facing North Washington Street and a bar that was once located just west of that space have been converted into an antique shop. However, the vendor for that space has not yet moved into the building.
She also has plans for a restaurant for part of that block that she will call the “Ivy Garden.” That business will be open about three days a week and will specialize in breakfast and lunch, mostly by reservation.
She also has plans for a resale shop area she will name the “Honey Pot.”
Hughes said she intends to see some of the proceeds of the Honey Pot go to the city and other organizations that will promote activities downtown and provide infrastructure improvements.
This week local contractor Younts Enterprises began work on replacing the sidewalks on the south side of the 200 block of West Bowie. Workers have removed the old concrete and they will replace the sidewalk in front of Bar Row with new concrete.
City Manager Tom Ginter said the $16,757.30 needed to replace the sidewalks is being provided by Beeville’s Tax Increment Finance District.
But Hughes has other plans for the area, including converting the Skidmart buildings into an entertainment center with an arcade for young people and tenant shops. She also plans to provide a picnic area with new trees and an area for antique shows and other events.
“I love to do fundraisers and I love to throw parties and I’m good at it,” Hughes told the council.
She wants to make use of the abandoned railroad tracks that were preserved by the Bee County Historical Commission by placing a caboose on the track alongside the 300 block of North Madison Street.
Hughes said she would like to see a candy shop or an ice cream shop in the caboose.
Another goal is to cobblestone parts of Bowie and Madison streets in that immediate area and make Bowie a one-way street in the 200 block.
“I agree with you and your vision is great,” Mayor Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez told Hughes. “I think it’s a fantastic idea.”
Hughes then explained that she would like eventually to have a small hotel in the area, “so we can make things happen.” The hotel would have about 20 rooms. She also wants to close North Madison Street right in front of the Skidmart building and make that part of West Bowie Street one way.
Organizations and individuals could help finance the cobblestone project for Bowie and Madison streets by buying bricks and having their names and family members’ names engraved on them.
Hughes was asking the council for their formal support for her project but the item on the agenda did not call for action. Martinez requested that the item be included on the council’s next agenda so its members could make their support formal.
“You have my full support,” Councilman John Fulghum told Hughes. “To me, you’re turning a rough diamond into a polished gem.”