By Moses Leos III
A study designed to implement wayfinding signs around Buda could draw more traffic to the downtown corridor in the near future.
Crafted by consultant Design Workshop, the study findings recommend a total of 52 signs costing an estimated $188,483 to be spread out over the next three fiscal years.
“We asked for an estimate, but we are getting estimates from other sign companies,” Lysa Gonzalez, Buda’s director of tourism said. “We don’t have the final cost. We are hoping to come in below that [amount].”
Gonzalez said the city’s primary goal was to direct visitors across all areas of the city limits, making sure visitors know how to find the city’s parks, facilities, retail areas and business districts.
She said the city’s current signs only direct people to city facilities.
“We want people to realize where it is they can go to, whether they are visiting or driving through,” Gonzalez said.
In March, the city contracted Design Workshop to complete its wayfinding study.
At a cost of $10,400, the project included pinpointing where traffic was coming from, along with how many messages were needed for each sign.
Finding text size and how big the signs needed to be based on speed limits was another. It went hand-in-hand with attaining a uniform look — something Design Workshop modeled after the buildings in downtown.
Implementation of the new signs is planned in three phases. Funding would come from the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) fund, with the city planning to install the signs in-house.
According to the Texas Tax Code, a HOT can be levied on any hotel or motel that charges a minimum of $2.00 per room, per day. Buda’s HOT rate is set at seven percent, with the state collection six percent.
Gonzalez said Phase I is slated to be done in fiscal year (FY) 2014-15, with the two other phases following in 15-16 and 16-17.
However, she said those timeframes are only estimates. Buda’s $55 million bond initiative, which includes a new city hall and library facility, could affect how the sign plans proceed.
But with downtown corridor signs coming in Phase II, Gonzalez doesn’t estimate problems developing. She said the only additions or subtractions would be messages on Phase I signage.
“If the bond does pass, we can evaluate which signs in Phase II will be manufactured and put up based on which messages are on those signs and which we will hold off on,” she said in an emailed response. “We are trying to avoid having to move any signs if we can.”
Finding out just how much it could cost the city is still a moving target. Based on current estimates, the 52 signs could cost the city roughly $4,000 each.
“We are not looking to spend that much per sign,” Gonzalez said.
The study could also be merged into Buda’s downtown master plan, designed by Halff and Associates.
Gonzalez said that would be contingent on Phase II, when the city has an idea of where the downtown boundaries are.
Capturing the business from visitors remains the goal for the city.
“We are hoping to pull people off IH-35 and 1626 when they are going back and forth to shop in our downtown area and do other things around town,” Gonzalez said.