At last night’s meeting, Harris County commissioners approved a plan to renovate the Astrodome, potentially revitalizing the crumbling landmark, which received a declaration of being unfit for occupancy in 2009.
As Rare previously reported, the $105 million project will reportedly raise the Astrodome two floors to create an underground parking garage capable of holding 1,400 vehicles.
Under the dome, developers say 550,000 square feet of potential space offers options for commercial spaces, festivals, events and conventions; the county is also considering opening the space up for tenants or as public event space.
Commissioners said they believe the renovations will allow the property to generate revenue, a position supported by both the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo:
“The plan to restore the Astrodome as a revenue-generating facility is a positive step forward for the entire complex,” the Houston Texans said in a statement. “We applaud Commissioners Court for moving this plan forward and having a long-term vision for NRG Park.”
Rodeo officials suggested the newly-renovated space could pave the way for more vendors at their event, saying there is currently a waiting list of 200 vendors.
Despite some draw across the community, Houston’s dome became a polarizing issue in recent years, especially following Hurricane Harvey:
Social media responses highlight some of the criticism of the decision.
Despite frustration with a lack of progress on the property, in 2014, a majority of voters rejected a $217 million bond proposal to renovate the landmark, leaving some critics of the project baffled as to why the county is proceeding now.
As the county struggles to pay for flood control projects and buyouts of frequently flooded homes, the commissioners say they are planning to call for at least a $1 billion bond election — leading to more objections about the means of money allocaiton for repairs to the Astrodome.
Regarding the latest vote, Judge Ed Emmett clarified only one-third of the $105 million will come from the county fund, which consists of property tax revenues; the remaining cost will be paid from hotel occupancy tax (HOT) and parking revenue, which are not spent on flood control:
“We have to maintain our buildings. We have to have a revenue source at NRG Park, and the dome floor is gonna be that revenue source. And 2/3 of the money being spent on the Dome could not be spent on flood control anyway,” Emmett said in a statement, according to KHOU.
Initially, the commissioners court approved the design and engineering plans in September 2016.
After the vote, construction is expected to begin later this year, expected to take 17 months to complete.
Stay tuned, y’all.