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The Astrodome parking proposal is about to get real

Here it comes.

Still cheaper to renovate than the real thing

Harris County commissioners are poised to make their largest investment yet in the Astrodome’s future next week.

They are slated to vote on the first piece of a $105 million plan to raise the ground level two floors to fit in roughly 1,400 parking spaces, which would make the Dome suitable for festivals or conferences and usher in potential commercial uses in the more than 550,000 square feet that surrounds the core.

A majority of the county’s governing body indicated support for the plan Friday. If approved, it would begin to provide a future for the stadium more than 16 years removed from hosting its last Astros last game.

“This is making something happen, finally, with the Dome,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

[…]

Tuesday’s vote would be on whether to allocate $10.5 million of the “design phase” of the parking project. If approved, the county would hire an architectural and engineering team and, over 12 months, lay out the blueprints of the overall project. It’s not another study, Emmett said.

“No, this is actually doing the engineering to raise the floors, put the parking in,” he said.

The county also, for the first time Friday, detailed how it plans to pay for the stadium’s $105 million redevelopment. Budget officer Bill Jackson said about one-third of the project, or roughly $35 million, would come from the county’s general fund, made up largely of property tax revenue.

Another third would come from hotel taxes, with the remaining third coming from county parking revenues. These new covered spaces inside the Dome could generate top dollar.

Emmett noted the general fund component, around $30 million, is roughly equivalent to the amount the county estimates it would cost to demolish the Dome. In other words, money the county would have to spend even if it wanted to get rid of the facility.

Currently, the Dome costs close to $170,000 a year to maintain, Jackson said.

“There are some that just really don’t want to save the Dome. They want it torn down,” Emmett said. “This saves it in a very conservative way that makes it useful and preserves options for the future.”

There are still several unknowns. It’s possible, Jackson said, that after the design phase, the cost for construction might push the project above the $105  million goal, at which point commissioners would have to decide whether to move forward.

What happens to the 550,000 square feet of space surrounding the area where the field was is also still not firmed up. Emmett said it likely will be hammered out over the next year.

The plan still would have to be approved by the state historical commission, which currently considers the Astrodome a “state antiquities landmark,” meaning it cannot be “removed, altered, damaged, salvaged, or excavated without a permit from the Texas Historical Commission,” a spokesman said.

See here, here, and here for the background. It sounds like the Texans and the Rodeo aren’t fully on board with this, but I don’t know that it’s worth worrying about that. The idea behind this is that once the underground parking is available, then other redevelopment plans for the Dome become more feasible. I guess we’ll find out. The Chron editorial board, which supports the plan, has more.

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11 Comments

  1. C.L. says:

    Re: “Budget officer Bill Jackson said about one-third of the project, or roughly $35 million, would come from the county’s general fund, made up largely of property tax revenue.”

    If you, CoH, have $35M lying around ’cause you’ve been overtaxing me for the past decade on my home, howabout you divy that $35M up amongst the homeowners/apply my share towards my 2017 bill INSTEAD of using it to shove more money into this concrete albatross ?

    $105M to raise the floor, and then another $300+M to turn it into something after that ? $100M here, $100M there, pretty soon we’ll be talking about real money.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    ” These new covered spaces inside the Dome could generate top dollar.”

    Perhaps, until people park in them for the very first time and discover that it takes 2 hours just to leave the parking lot after an event. Just tear this albatross down already.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    @C.L.:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I agree with you 100%.

  4. Ross says:

    The $35 million is coming from the County, not the City of Houston. The County has a pile of money in the reserves.

  5. Mike says:

    I have no idea how much it takes to build a parking garage, but 105M for 1,400 spaces comes to about $75,000 per slot. That sounds crazy high to me, on a parking garage solution.

  6. voter_worker says:

    @Mike The parking structure will also be the platform upon which the eventual primary use will be developed, so some percentage of the $105 million would be associated with that use.

  7. C.L. says:

    So $30M to blow it up vs. $500+M to turn it into a parking garage for 1,500 cars… with the concourse area serving as a venue for ‘festivals, conferences, and commercial sales’ ?

    Please tell me this is going to be placed on a ballot for the people of Harris County to vote on…

  8. brad m says:

    I hope there is backlash on the Commissioners Court at the next election.

  9. C.L. says:

    This f**king thing just won’t go away.

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    @ Brad:

    I’m marking my calendar, because I agree with you on this one.

    @C.L.:

    I’m thinking the cast of the Walking Dead should be hired. They seem to know how to kill zombies.

  11. […] C.L. on The Astrodome parking proposal is about to get real […]

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