Belaire Plaza

The City of Buda is located in a prime area south of Austin and north of San Antonio along the IH-35 corridor. Buda has more parkland per capita than any other city in Texas and was named the “Outdoor Capital of Texas” by the State of Texas Legislature.

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The former Buda City Hall is a one-story, approximately 6,391 square foot building located in the heart of Downtown Buda. It is immediately across the street from Buda’s Primary Historic Downtown concentration of restaurants and retail. The Buda Library is located just north of the Former City Hall on the same parcel of land. The Library outgrew the facility, and the site constraints limited expansion. The City Hall Annex is located one block east of the historic Main Street, across Railroad Street from Former City Hall. A Union Pacific Railroad line runs across the street to the west of the facility. The annex will require updates.

Goals & Objectives

Based on stakeholder conversations, plan, document reviews, and observations, we identified the following relevant goals which could inform plans for the adaptive reuses.

  • Attract customers to downtown businesses during construction

  • Creation of major anchor (in addition to the new City Park) to balance the downtown’s uses—particularly during daytime

  • Activate the eastern side of Main Street

  • Enhance the economic viability of downtown Buda

  • Diversify business, restaurant, and entertainment choices in downtown Buda

  • Create a high-quality pedestrian environment

  • Create and enhance public spaces, including parks, plazas, and other public gathering places

Recommendations

The construction of a new municipal complex in the northeast of Buda’s downtown provided a prime opportunity to leverage three former government buildings located in the downtown core. If used to their full potential, these buildings would offer exceptional opportunities to expand upon, leverage, and support the recent and ongoing successes in its downtown.

ASH+LIME’s visit to Buda revealed substantial staff and stakeholder interest in the revitalization of these sites. Our team gained substantial insights on the opportunities, challenges, and objectives relevant to the properties.

We based our recommendations on consensus between significant stakeholders and what we believed was best for the City of Buda, its citizens, and visitors to Downtown. To the best of our knowledge, all recommendations were reasonable and legal uses of property, which were physically possible, appropriately supported, financially feasible, and result in the best value to social, economic, and environmental sustainability factors.

We recommend integrating the Buda Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) into plans for the buildings. This may take a variety of forms, including reserving an office space in one of the buildings; offering chamber support for veteran-owned businesses; and/or creating a display area honoring local veterans.

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Former City Hall

The former City Hall should serve as an entrepreneurial center and business support hub. This may include a Chamber of Commerce office; resource centers from the Chamber and EDC; office and meeting spaces; drop in areas for work; and office, retail, and restaurant incubation. It  should create modest, fine-grained public gathering space at the former City Hall. It’s very important to have the right interface with the street so it feels safe and enticing at the crosswalk.

As a business support and incubation center, the former City Hall will benefit from the curation of businesses to occupy the spaces. In addition, there will be a need for active mentors who can advise tenants as well as smaller businesses throughout the community. In addition, there will be a need to manage work spaces/meeting spaces. For that reason, we recommend the Chamber of Commerce manage the space.

The Buda EDC has expressed a strong interest in helping to manage the former City Hall as a business incubator. While we recommend the Chamber of Commerce to work directly with “micro businesses,” we believe the EDC can play a strong complementary role.  In addition, there may be an opportunity to offer “economic gardening” functions - support services for businesses of 5-100 employees. This may include social media support, search engine optimization, strategic marketing assistance, etc. These types of programs can help give Buda companies a leg up and incentivize firm to locate in the City.

It is our recommendation that the Chamber of Commerce and EDC be given day-to-day responsibilities over both the building management and the daily operation. The City of Buda should retain equity in the property and share in the profits generated by it. The City will maintain control of a significant Downtown property and establish an ongoing stake in the project’s success.

A work session and further conversation can help determine the specifics of the deal. In addition, ownership in the project can be negotiated between the partners. As detailed in the Funding and Financing section, the ASH+LIME team believes it is likely that the project can create positive cash flows for the partners, in addition to supporting local businesses and a more vibrant downtown.

Former City Hall Annex

The City Hall Annex has much importance because it the gateway and connector point east of the tracks and potential expansion of the downtown. Our recommendation is that although selling the building, the City should have ordinances or agreements in place with new owners to ensure good public expression on exterior walls, creating visual cues like murals and artistic signage on the side of the building. Due its prominence, the City should maintain input on the interface due to the significance the building has as a connection to the eastern side of the track.

The former City Hall Annex may serve a variety of functions on its first floor. Our recommendation is to release an RFP for an individual to buy and run the former annex as an arts space, to include galleries, and maker spaces for craftsmen and artists.

The second floor may be ideal for childcare or residential uses in a renovated state. AirBNB rentals, dwelling units, and other lodging options would work well with an elevator. It would also be possible to have classroom or office uses.

The City should maintain control though agreements or ordinances to keep the property in good condition. The City will not be responsible for management as they will no longer be owners of the former Annex and is intended to be returned to the tax rolls.

We recommend creating an RFQ and selling the property to a buyer capable of renovating the property to the standards the City requires within a reasonable timeframe. Buyer should also be able and willing to maintain the exterior, especially the western facade, to the City’s desired look.

Former Library

It is recommended that the City clarify the roles, uses, and next steps for former Library. Based on stakeholder engagement and our professional experience we make the following recommendations.

We recommend moving forward with the current plans for the library, but making some minor alterations to accommodate meeting spaces, a visitors center, and some micro restaurants. The space should work in conjunction with the former City Hall and be managed the same way. Conference, event venue, and meeting rooms seem to have a lot of demand and be appropriately supported by the location and structural space afforded by the building’s footprint.

As a visitor center, meeting space, and mico restaurant, the former Library will benefit from the curation of businesses to occupy the former City Hall. In addition, there will be a need to manage work and meeting spaces. For that reason, we recommend the Chamber of Commerce manage this space as well.

The Buda EDC has expressed a strong interest in helping to manage property Downtown. While we recommend the Chamber of Commerce to work directly with “micro restaurants,” we believe the EDC can play a strong complementary role.  In addition, there may be an opportunity to offer “economic gardening” functions - support services for businesses of 5-100 employees. This may include social media support, search engine optimization, strategic marketing support, etc. These types of programs can help give Buda companies a leg up.

It is our recommendation that the Chamber of Commerce and EDC be given day-to-day responsibilities over both the building management and the daily operation. The City of Buda should retain equity in the property and share in the profits generated by it. The City will maintain control of a significant Downtown property and establish an ongoing stake in the project’s success.

A work session and further conversation can help determine the specifics of the deal. In addition, ownership in the project can be negotiated between the partners. As detailed in the Funding and Financing section, the ASH+LIME team believes it is likely that the project can create positive cash flows for the partners, in addition to supporting local businesses and a more vibrant downtown.

Next Steps

Our team proposes to provide the City of Buda with the next steps needed to facilitate the adaptive reuse of the property in a manner that leverages and complements the ongoing investments throughout the surrounding area.

Several potential frameworks may be available, including:

  • Public management of the project

  • Public-private partnership - the public sector may choose to take a variety of potential roles on the project, which can be detailed in a report

  • Public management - the City may release an RFP with standards to support their goals for the project.

  • Additional interviews with city staff, elected officials, and downtown stakeholders to hone understanding of current conditions and desired goals for the subject properties

  • 1-2 workshops to include key stakeholders, which may include city staff; potential building operators; Chamber of Commerce staff; and EDC staff

  • Update the walking pro-forma to a formal pro-forma

  • Recommend a financial structure for management of the City Hall and City Hall Annex, to include possible loan terms, ownership structures, and leasing conditions

  • Recommend permitted and desired uses for the City Hall and City Hall Annex

  • Recommend organizational frameworks for the management and ownership of the former City Hall and Annex buildings

  • Create conceptual designs for City Hall and City Hall Annex, including rendered design perspectives

  • Write proposed language for an RFP or RFQ, if applicable

  • Present before City Council

Adaptive Reuse Strategy

2018

 
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