Steve's Soapbox

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Appreciating Historic Downtowns: Lobbyist buys small town's Main Street

Lobbyist buys small town's Main Street
Texan prepares to trade D.C. politics for simpler life
10:19 PM CST on Monday, November 28, 2005
By KAREN BROOKS / The Dallas Morning News
MARTINDALE, Texas – When this tiny Hill Country town celebrated its 150th birthday recently, only one thing generated more buzz on Main Street than the painstakingly assembled city museum featuring Lorraine Harper Harrison's wedding dress.
The man commanding the attention of the founding families was Carlton Carl – the Washington lobbyist who just bought Main Street.
"My dad is just dying to meet you," said resident Nancy Bagley Freels, wearing a straw hat and smiling up at the jovial, bearded Mr. Carl. "He said, 'I have got to see who this man is.' "
Mr. Carl has yet to commit to plans for his 36,000 square feet of downtown and riverfront property. But he has already won over the prominent Bagley, Martindale and Harper families, Mayor Lola Walker, the police chief, the council, and current and former residents who have long mourned the impending death of Martindale.
The 60-year-old native Texan sold his 900-square-foot townhouse in Washington, D.C., last year and recently purchased 16 seed silos, an old bank, a 10,000-square foot former feed store, and several other buildings that compose about 90 percent of downtown.
In doing so, Mr. Carl exchanged his life among the well-coiffed politicians of the nation's capital for a more peaceful existence among the well-coiffed matriarchs of the former Cotton Capital of the World – along with their small-town politics, high expectations, covered-dish dinners, family histories and welcoming, rose-scented hugs.

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