It’s out with the old and in with the new at the Ferris Professional Plaza.

The long-abandoned 20,000-square-foot facility used to be a nursing home for the city of Ferris. But after the previous investors were absent from maintaining the building, the city reclaimed the property over five years ago.

“That building was in really poor shape,” Ferris City Manager Bill Jordan stated. “It was owned by a group of investors out of Austin. The building had gotten to the point where it was no longer salvageable. There’s maybe a rat or two in there.”

The city reached an agreement with Canyon Creek Development in November last year to grant the property to them under the condition that they absorb the costs of demolition for the property.

According to a November city council agenda, the economic development corporation incentive goes up to the appraised value of the land. If demolition costs exceed the value, a forgivable loan by the city will be used to fill the gap.

Jordan estimated that the asbestos abatement alone would cost over $100,000 for the developers.

“Because the building is full of asbestos, it needs to be demolished,” Jordan stated. “That’s a huge injury cost for that property.”

Once the building is demolished, a mixed-use development will be built alongside the roadway, complete with seven residential lots, two commercial lots and two townhomes. Project manager Melvin Barnes stated that the project is part of a multi-lot development that will construct 19 residential lots total by the Ferris Independent School District Administration Building.

“We’re looking at it all as one big project,” Barnes expressed. “We’re going to put houses on 10th Street, on Fifth Street, on Bakers Street. I’m running the whole project, from development to construction. I have a hand in everything.”

Having already collaborated with Canyon Creek on the Midtowne homes in Midlothian, Barnes stated that he believed an identical development could similarly benefit Ferris. He wanted to see what he could do to bring more rooftops into the city.

“I was building those houses in Midlothian and kind of seeing that market,” Barnes recalled. “I’m Ferris born-and-raised. I went to my partner and said I think my hometown is a perfect place for our product. It’s got a nice, old-town feel to it, a bunch of the houses are craftsman-style homes. I think it would revitalize the city.”

Barnes stated that the lot sizes would range from 1,700-2,300 square feet, and would be one or two stories depending on the buyer’s needs. And with the added foot traffic next to the administration building, Barnes said that would also benefit the commercial spaces they have planned for the development.

“That footprint worked great in Midlothian,” he expressed. “Our thing is we don’t have a floor plan. When customers are interested, they come, sit down with us and tell us their dream home. Then we bring our architects in and we design it to what you guys are wanting, and we try to budget the build according to what your allowance is.”

“You’re getting a custom home, but you’re not paying custom prices,” Barnes continued. “You’re not going to see two of the same houses on the street – or in the same neighborhood, for that matter.”

Barnes said demolition of the building will begin on May 13. While he hopes that demolition will take four weeks, he said that will depend on the weather. If it rains or storms, that may cause delays for their project.

Regardless, they do plan to lay out three spec homes in the next few weeks, and two others as soon as demolition is complete.

“We’re trying to give it a big push – come right out of the gate, show people what we’re doing,” Barnes expressed.

Jordan stated he’s excited to see the project begin and watch how it impacts the community in Ferris.

“We’re excited to see Ferris taking off,” Jordan expressed. “We’ve got a little bit of everything going on in Ferris right now. We’re starting to feel all the changes coming to the northern Ellis County area, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

As far as Barnes goes, he said he travels to several cities to build homes everywhere.

He said it’s nice to build in his own hometown for a change.

“This project is special to me,” Barnes remarked. “To be able to grow up and building for so many years, then to come back home and build in your hometown and try to grow the community with something you’re invested in? It’s a big deal to me.”