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story.lead_photo.caption Justin Jones, Joe Gay and Les Munn, shown here Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Moore's Home Furnishings building downtown, intend to turn the space into a multi-purpose entertainment venue that recalls the building's history. Photo by Aaron Brand / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Ark. — The new owners of the Moore's Home Furnishings building downtown aim to create a unique event space for Texarkana that capitalizes on downtown revitalization and the entertainment district.

The CrossTies Texarkana project gets underway in earnest now that the new ownership team closed on the deal Wednesday.

Justin Jones, Joe Gay and Les Munn are partnering on the project, which re-imagines a vast commercial building — 36,000 square feet reworked for the future.

"We envision a place in the downtown area, now that we have the new entertainment district downtown, that will give everybody in this town a place to come to as kind of like your heartbeat of the downtown entertainment district," Munn said. "We're going to be able to hold weddings, parties, concerts." Any major event, they'll try to make it happen.

They've purchased not only the building but also the lots beside the building, including the land up to the caboose at Front Street Festival Plaza.

"We're not going to waste any space. We're going to utilize the entire building — upstairs, downstairs, the lots, all of it," Munn said.

Jones and Gay are brothers, while Munn is a friend who as a Texarkana police officer experiences downtown events and interacts with the community here. He's seen what's lacking, and he and Gay started talking about what they could do to help enliven downtown.

"And create something to wake it up, get it vitalized, get things going on down here," Munn said. "We needed a place, we needed an idea."

Seeing that the Moore's building was for sale inspired them to start batting ideas around. Then the brothers decided to go all in on purchasing the space. "They had this brilliant idea to buy the building, so here we are," Munn said.

So what was the specific draw for the three of them? "Location, land and space, and downtown on the Arkansas side," said Gay.

Expect to see the space looking like it did in the past with exposed beams and brick, original wood columns brought back.

"All the original hardwood floor upstairs brought back to life," Gay said. Artistic touches will be added.

Said Jones, "We want to bring back some history, bring some character into every room and every design we're doing."

That history is what they've studied.

"We've been doing our research and we can put it back to 1903. It was one of the original Coca-Cola plants here. It's been a fire department for the city at one point. It has been a livery stable for this side of the building where they used to keep the horses and the wagons back in the day. It's been a barber shop, it's been a saloon. It's been a department store, it's been a car sales place," Munn said.

They intend to display that history and also mix it with the downtown entertainment district theme. It gives the city something to be proud of. They want to support surrounding businesses, too, Munn said. They intend to maintain the current relationship with the city for outdoor space use.

And they're hitting the ground running. Main Street Arkansas officials will help immediately with consultation.

"We're shooting for an opening of late April, early May," Munn said, adding, "You're going to see things starting to happen here in the next couple weeks."

The venue website is already up, bare-bones style, and declares, "We hope to provide a unique entertainment venue. We will host weddings, all types of parties, corporate events, social gatherings, festivals, concerts and so much more."

Moore's Home Furnishings served Texarkana for decades, first under the name Moore Tire and Appliance. Since it opened in the 1950s, two families ran the business: first the Moores and then the McNatts. Now that they've reached retirement age, the McNatt family decided to sell the longtime business fixture.

In a mid-December Gazette article, Gary McNatt said, "The recently formed entertainment district is a big influencer of this decision as downtown Texarkana enters a new period and seems poised for a renaissance. We are going to let things take their course and we wish the new owners of the property well."

Ina McDowell, Main Street Texarkana's executive director, is excited to see this development downtown.

"Main Street (Arkansas) staff will be coming in and assisting the new owners with interior and exterior design and ultimately provide renderings for use of the space," McDowell said. "The new owners have already been talking to them with ideas of what they think they would like to see, such as new awning on the side, signage."

With this much space, there are plenty of uses, she said. Main Street staff will advise about that, too.

"I think it's great as another anchor on this end of our downtown. I think the name is perfect that ties in obviously with the railroad," McDowell said.

(On the Net: CrossTiesTexarkana.com.)

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