Buda OKs lease with local VFW
Giving area veterans a place to call their own was the first move Buda officials made toward finding a use for its former municipal facilities.
By a 6-0 Jan. 15 vote, the Buda City Council approved a lease agreement with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 12161 to reuse what was Buda’s city hall annex building.
Per the agreement, the VFW will lease the building along Houston Street for a four-year period. Buda officials agreed to not place the structure on the market for the duration of the lease, so long as a suitable replacement structure is not found.
Prior to the meeting, Buda’s proposed contract would have allowed the VFW to lease the building for a four-year term that could be terminated with a 90-day notice after two years.
Wiley Hopkins, District C council member, successfully amended the agreement in order to provide protections for the VFW.
Discussion on the agreement followed recommendations from Ash+Lime, an area consulting group, which was hired to evaluate former municipal complex facilities in the downtown area. That includes old Buda City Hall, along with the former Buda Library building.
Micah Grau, Buda assistant city manager, said Ash+Lime facilitated discussions with stakeholders and interested parties on the facilities. Buda officials also received feedback from residents via a survey conducted in November 2018.
Ash+Lime recommended Buda turn the city hall annex into an art hub, with the city conducting a request for proposal (RFP) to sell the property for studio space, maker space and artists.
“They (Ash+Lime) felt the annex serves as a gateway to the eastern side of downtown,” Grau said. Ash+Lime recommended Buda use the old City Hall location as a mixed-use business incubator, with the library as a possible visitor’s center.
Grau said Buda received an unsolicited offer from resident Matt Debow who wanted to acquire the annex and bring in tenants to occupy the building. Buda City Attorney George Hyde said the city wasn’t able to take the unsolicited offer per state law.
City leaders also bounced around ideas about what could be done with the annex and other facilities. Council member District B council member Evan Ture advocated for the city to have a buyer for the annex “sooner rather than later.” Ture said the former Buda library location could be a possible alternative home for the VFW post.
Council member At-Large Remy Fallon, however, said the library should be a visitors center as it’s the “perfect spot” in the downtown area. Fallon advocated for maintaining the annex lease agreement with the VFW as they had been working with them since March 2017.
David Condel, Buda VFW 12161 commander, said using the old library was not an option for a post that’s now up to 60 members and growing. Condel said the old library facility might not be an adequate place to store its ceremonial rifles.
Council member Ray Bryant said the VFW also had plans to remodel the annex to fit its needs. That includes leasing out space within the annex to veteran-owned businesses.
“I’m afraid the library will not accommodate what we need,” Condel said. “It’s too small.”
Kenneth Williams, Buda City Manager, said the agreement with the VFW is something “we can all live with.” It also gives VFW officials the space they need and have sought for some time.
“They’ve talked with use in good faith and I think we have a deal that benefits the city and them,” Williams said.