Petroleum Building owner pushes for more residential space in downtown WF

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — While downtown Wichita Falls may not be bustling with activities and new businesses as it had been before the pandemic, it hasn’t stopped developers and entrepreneurs from exploring new ventures, both in business and housing.

“I’ve been a firm believer of downtown when I first came here about six years ago, and I see it changing,” Owner of the Petroleum Building, Will Kelty said.

The old Crescent Plaza Hotel, also known as the Petroleum Building, has been sitting vacant for more than a decade at the corner of Scott and Eighth, except for the Highlander restaurant.

Kelty opened the City Center Apartments above 8th Street Coffee House, and now since that project is 100 percent occupied, Kelty is moving on to something much bigger, the old Crescent Plaza Hotel.

Once a Holiday Inn, before that The Downtowner, and maybe soon another name, The Kate. His original plan was to convert it to housing for MSU students. But now he has plans for 55 affordable apartments.

“There will be 45 one bedroom one bath apartments, and there will be 10 two-bedroom, two-bath apartments,” Kelty said.

Because Kelty is looking to use tax credits for a portion of the project, he has to not only get support from city council but from the WFISD school board as well.

“There’s a lot of hurdles and a lot of bars you have to meet in order to apply or even have that application accepted,” Kelty said.

One of those hurdles being school ratings. Because Kirby Junior High has an F rating in overall accountability, that could pose a threat to Kelty’s project getting tax credits, which is why he’s hoping the school board can amend the zoning requirement and allow middle school dependents living here to attend Barwise instead.

“The Kirby school district is not performing well, and as a result, if I were to submit the application as it is today, it would be rejected. Because they will not fund a project that involves kids having to go to a middle school like Kirby,” Kelty said.

Kelty said right now, it’s a waiting game.

Kelty said if he does get approval from the school board and city council, he’ll know in July if he can start his estimated 18-month long project to bring another building back to life, starting with floors six through 10.

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