Buda seeks new purpose for city structures

When Buda moves its city hall and library later this year to a new location just east of downtown, several soon-to-be vacant municipal structures will have an opportunity for new life.

On March 7, Buda City Council members discussed repurposing the Basil Anthony Moreau Public Library and city hall, as well as the city hall annex, which was once a space for the Buda Police Department and the city’s engineering and planning departments.

The buildings will no longer be in use once construction for the Buda Municipal Complex is finished. Those three buildings have architectural prominence in the downtown Buda area, which is leading city officials to find the best ways to repurpose them.

City council members decided to keep the library for city use while potentially leasing out city hall and the city hall annex.

Assistant City Manager Micah Grau says the city is going to move its Buda Main Street Program and tourism department offices into the library, as well as allocating space for community groups to meet. Currently, the city’s tourism department is housed at Stagecoach Park.

Buda’s current library facility was built in 1993 and was constructed with a $75,000 contribution from Santa Cruz Catholic Church.

“The library was built with community support and community contributions, so we want to keep it as a community function,” Grau said.

For the other two buildings, the city will submit a request for proposals (RFPs), while also working with two senior level architecture classes at Texas State University to conduct reviews of the buildings to find ways to improve the inside space and aesthetic.

The students are looking at how to redesign city hall to benefit different businesses moving in and how to redesign the library to accommodate the Main Street and tourism offices.

“This is a great way for us to team up with Texas State and get ideas on how to adjust and redesign the buildings,” Buda’s Public Information Officer David Marino said.

The students will present their final project to the city May 3.

RFPs will be sent out by March 28 and businesses will have by the beginning of June to put together their proposal for use. Proposals will be evaluated based on which provides the best overall value to the city, according to city documents.

The Buda Downtown Master Plan states a desire for business diversity including “retail shops, restaurants, entertainment, and other destination activities that will draw even more individuals to visit the area.”

The proposal review process is expected to take a few months, which will then be followed by contract negotiations.

The Downtown Master Plan, which was released in 2012, called for the potential to lease municipal buildings “at a future time.”

City council also decided to clean up the plats for the properties under discussion. The city hall annex will be consolidated as one plat; the structure is built on two separate plats.

Additionally, the properties of city hall, the library, the water tower and the greenbelt park are all under a single plat.

“They’re all one plat, and that’s just how it was given to the city originally in the late 1800s, and so, as we’re developing different uses on these lots, it makes sense to divide them,” Grau said. “They all have distinct uses, so we want to break it up accordingly.”

Grau said the goal is to maintain ties in the city’s downtown district.

“Our downtown is important to us, it’s the heart of our community. We want to make sure we maintain a presence even though we’re just down the street now,” Grau said.

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