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Downtown Bryan Revitalization


Scotch

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So that's what there building on Texas Ave. across from the A.M/P.M. clinic? I thought that was going to be something else

No, the spot your thinking of is where the City of Bryan is soon to be building the new police station/municipal court. The parking garage is to be built on the current county parking lots at 26th Street and Washington Ave are. It's primary use is as a parking structure with 1000 spaces for visitors of downtown and the courthouse. It will also double as a bus terminal for the Brazos Transit District (Whom is building the garage) And I can recall several years ago, when the idea was first pitched, that it would have businesess on the first floor. Some things mentioned were a coffee shop, eatery ect. I dont know if that is still in the works though. Kind of similar the the parking structure at St. Joseph in regard to ground floor businesess.

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A proposed transit and parking garage adjacent to the Brazos County Courthouse moved closer to reality last week when the U.S. House approved its transportation bill.

However, the project is not part of the Senate version of the bill.

John McBeth, director of the region

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I think this article refers to what you meant, and in my opinion something had to happen because the article is from early 2003 and in it was stated the completion in 2006 and i haven't noticed any construction in that area but who know's 2006 not finish yet maybe it could happen

Thats one of them... Check this one out...

Updated 6:36 AM on Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bryan garage plan gets federal funding

By CRAIG KAPITAN

Eagle Staff Writer

Construction could begin as early as next spring on a six-story, $12.1 million parking garage across the street from the Brazos County Courthouse, a regional transportation official told commissioners Tuesday.

The District - a government organization that provides public transportation services for 16 counties, including Brazos - has been working on the project for about five years now. But recent approval of federal funding for the garage has now put plans on the fast track, according to District general manager John McBeth.

The agency began soliciting bids for design proposals last weekend. A design firm should be selected by the end of the summer, with final plans ready for the facility by January 2007, McBeth said.

If all goes according to plan, The District could then award a construction contract by March 2007, clearing the way for construction to begin.

In his presentation, McBeth estimated the construction process will take nine months to one year - pushing the possible completion date to early 2008. When finished, the garage should be able to accommodate up to 1,000 vehicles belonging to county employees, courthouse visitors and residents visiting the revitalized downtown Bryan shopping area.

In addition to the six-story garage, the development will house a two-story, 21,000 square-foot office building that will contain the county's probation department, a commercial bus terminal and businesses such as coffee shops and dry cleaners, McBeth said.

It would take up two blocks, including the locations of the current courthouse parking lot and the county's probation department. The facility will be built over a portion of Washington Avenue, McBeth said.

However, the buildings will not be higher than the Brazos County Courthouse, he said, explaining that it will be built to look more like an office building than a garage.

It is important to get construction started as soon as possible, McBeth told commissioners, explaining that one year ago the project was estimated to be about $9.2 million. The $3 million price increase is because of escalating costs for concrete and other construction materials, he said.

So far, The District has obtained federal and state grants to garner about half of the current $12.1 million price tag. It's enough money to start borrowing money from private lenders while The District works to obtain additional federal funding, McBeth said.

Brazos County has not been asked to provide cash for the project, but it has donated the land the garage will be built on.

Once construction begins, McBeth said The District will set up a shuttle system for courthouse employees and visitors whose parking spots will be temporarily displaced.

"We don't want to do anything during the construction period that's going to interfere with anything going on at the courthouse," he explained.

The District also will provide a temporary home for the probation department, even if that means paying the county for use of a building it already operates, McBeth said. Commissioners have suggested housing the department on a temporary basis at nearby First Baptist Church, which commissioners agreed to buy last year for future courthouse expansion.

The District has not yet determined if it will charge for parking at the garage, although parking definitely will be free for courthouse employees and jurors, McBeth said. If others are charged, it will only be after a parking commission is formed that includes representatives from Bryan and Brazos County.

"This was a project that when we first announced it oh-so-many years ago, everybody thought we were nuts," McBeth said as he began his presentation Tuesday.

But these days his plans seem to have garnered strong support from local officials. U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, who helped get about $3 million in federal funding for the project, has said in the past that having the project completed might eventually help the county in its decades-long effort to procure a federal courthouse.

"I think that's really good news," County Judge Randy Sims said at the end of McBeth's Tuesday presentation. "It's going to certainly help us."

Edited by txshady
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  • 4 weeks later...

From a City of Bryan get connected e-mail:

Phase Two construction set to begin Monday

Downtown Master Plan switches focus from Main Street to Bryan Avenue

The western half of Bryan Avenue, from 23rd Street to William Joel Bryan Parkway, will close beginning Monday, July 24, as Phase Two of the City of Bryan

Edited by Scotch
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  • 4 months later...

Bryan to consider reinvestment zone

By APRIL AVISON

Eagle Staff Writer

The Bryan City Council will review this week a proposal that would allow some of the property taxes collected in downtown Bryan to pay for new construction.

Sixty downtown property owners have signed a petition circulated by the Downtown Bryan Economic Development Association asking the council to establish a tax increment reinvestment zone, also known as a TIRZ.

Once the zone is established, the city can use tax increment financing to repay debt issued for projects within the established zone. The money comes from the rise in property value, or increment, the zone produces each year.

Property values in the proposed zone have increased an average of $13 million over the past six years, according to a report by PLUS Planning consulting firm.

The proposed zone covers 259 acres, bound by Martin Luther King Jr. Street to the north, Texas Avenue to the east, 30th Street to the south and Sims Avenue to the west. The zone also includes properties along the South College Avenue corridor, which is considered a gateway into the downtown area.

Those proposing the downtown zone have projected about $25 million worth of projects could be accomplished over a 20-year period.

Such a project is commonly referred to as a TIF, or tax increment financing zone. Bryan has two active TIFs - one in the Park Hudson business park and another in Traditions golf and residential community. The City Council in July appointed an advisory board to oversee what's known as the Burton Creek TIF, which covers an area near William Joel Bryan Parkway and Villa Maria Road. A master plan is under review by the advisory board. When the plan is produced, it - along with financial projections - will be subject to City Council approval.

The Bryan City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed downtown TIRZ at its 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday. A second reading of the ordinance is planned for a special meeting, scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday.

The plan

If property values in a TIF zone don't rise, the city would have to dip into its general fund to cover costs. Therefore, the funding mechanism can pose a risk if it's in an area where there's no guarantee of development.

But establishment of the downtown TIF zone poses no financial risk to the city because it doesn't require any immediate funding commitments. Establishing a downtown TIF zone will bring key community players together to discuss the future of the area as an economic engine for Bryan, according to Randall Spradley, a developer who supports the measure.

Spradley said he can guarantee the investment will pay off, because he's personally planning $6 million in projects in downtown next year.

"The $6 million in new projects will immediately fund the TIRZ," he said. "If the TIRZ is not in place in 2006, the city will forfeit $6 million TIRZ value."

Randall Spradley (left), vice president at Astin Redevelopment, and Katie Blanchard of the Downtown Bryan Economic Development Assosiation believe the downtown area will benefit from a TIRZ.

The property tax increment collected by the city can go toward future phases of Bryan's downtown master plan, Spradley said.

"Once you have a TIRZ established, you create a business plan, and these projects can be funded incrementally over time," he said. "A TIRZ depoliticizes the funding. It increases developer confidence."

Some of the projects identified in Bryan's master plan include underground utility installation, streetscape projects, a civic park, gateway signage, detention pond, Carnegie Plaza fountain and other beautification efforts.

"We have identified $25 million worth of possible projects in order to complete the vision of the master plan," said Katie Blanchard, who chairs the economic development committee for the downtown association. "All we're doing right now is just establishing the zone. We can take years to talk about the projects we want to fund. The zone has to happen by statute before TIF funding can be discussed."

More information about the plan for the downtown TIF proposal is posted at www.downtowntif.com.

Guidelines

The City Council has been discussing for the past few months a formal policy for establishing TIF zones. A vote is scheduled at Tuesday's council meeting.

The purpose of the policy is to provide a template for property owners and developers considering petitioning Bryan for a TIF zone, said Director of Special Projects David Storrie, who is preparing the draft. No formal guidelines are in place governing the establishment of a TIF.

If Storrie's policy is adopted, those seeking a TIF zone would have to submit a construction timeline, development budget and cash flow projections. Such an analysis has been prepared by the downtown group, and will be presented before the council during Tuesday's public hearing.

According to the state tax code, a TIF may be initiated if it meets one of three criteria. One criterion set out in the code, which the downtown TIF supporters say their plan meets, is that the area's present condition must substantially impair the city's growth.

The reason the northern part of downtown is considered an undeveloped blighted area is partially due to a lack of long-term planning, Spradley said. It's not the fact that Twin City Mission's homeless shelter is in the downtown area, he said. In fact, it could be argued that the mission's presence downtown has kept property values low, Spradley said.

"People have claimed the mission is the reason development has stopped," Spradley said. "Don't buy into that myth. It's quite the opposite."

The northern section of downtown has remained blighted simply because there hasn't been an economic development tool, like tax increment financing, in place to spark construction, he said.

"The northern part of downtown is the textbook, almost the poster child, of the best use for a TIF, according to state of Texas guidelines," Spradley said. "The whole community would benefit."

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  • 1 year later...

For anyone who travels downtown often I'd guess the fact that Doe's Steakhouse closed down is no big surprise. Though their other US locations appear to have done well this one just never caught on. The atmosphere was sparse and didn't really draw anyone back there from my and other's experience.

However, whats taking Doe's place might be better in the long run. Opening soon is "River Bridge" which is the newest venue opened by the successful owners of the Koppe Bridge locations in College Station. Apparently they're taking the theme thats worked well at the other two locations and upgrading it a bit to include steaks and other finer dining items as well as a bar.

I think its a great addition to Downtown Bryan and the Howell Building and most likely has a better chance at success given the investment made in the interior and the owners' knowledge of the local market.

I'm sure the following website will be updated soon to include more info:

www.koppebridge.com

Edited by Bryan Guy
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For anyone who travels downtown often I'd guess the fact that Doe's Steakhouse closed down is no big surprise. Though their other US locations appear to have done well this one just never caught on. The atmosphere was sparse and didn't really draw anyone back there from my and other's experience.

However, whats taking Doe's place might be better in the long run. Opening soon is "River Bridge" which is the newest venue opened by the successful owners of the Koppe Bridge locations in College Station. Apparently they're taking the theme thats worked well at the other two locations and upgrading it a bit to include steaks and other finer dining items as well as a bar.

I think its a great addition to Downtown Bryan and the Howell Building and most likely has a better chance at success given the investment made in the interior and the owners' knowledge of the local market.

I'm sure the following website will be updated soon to include more info:

www.koppebridge.com

That's good to here, I never got a chance to eat at Does.

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  • 1 month later...

A couple of articles about early planning for a mixed-use project in north Downtown Bryan, one from December, the next from early March:

Bryan Council OKs property purchase

By APRIL AVISON

Eagle Staff Writer

full article

The Bryan City Council agreed Tuesday to spend almost $2 million on downtown property, announcing plans to develop 3.28 acres as retail, residential and office space. A $100 million mixed-use development is ultimately anticipated, City Manager David Watkins said, adding that the land could be developed through a partnership with The Lawrence Group, which is based in St. Louis.

The City Council approved contracts on 10 properties between Main Street and Bryan Avenue and along Martin Luther King Jr. Street. The properties include a former Food Town grocery store, a 19,000-square-foot ice house built in 1912, a barber shop, a few vacant lots and Trinity Holy Temple. Twin City Mission is next to the land purchased by the city, but Bryan officials are negotiating a plan to relocate the agency, Watkins said. About $3.5 million is budgeted for downtown land purchases in the 2008 fiscal year.

The land purchase announced Tuesday offers the city an opportunity to control future downtown development and spur economic growth, according to city documents.

"We're trying to secure the downtown area so we can have a hand in who does what, where," Councilman Mike Southerland said.

The land purchase is a "big deal," Watkins said this week, explaining that Bryan officials are committed to investing in the downtown area. "I've never seen a city reach its potential when it ignores a historic downtown," Watkins said. "Downtown Bryan is our heart and soul. It's how people judge a city. You can't have a vibrant community without a heart and without a soul."

Revitalizing the downtown district was established as a goal more than six years ago, when a master plan was developed, said Deputy City Manager Joey Dunn. "In past phases of the master plan, we put an emphasis on downtown south," Dunn said. "Now we're putting our emphasis on areas north of 23rd Street to MLK. We're calling that our new frontier, but really, it's been in the master plan for years. This is the effort to do what that plan calls for, which is redevelopment and infill on the north end of downtown."

While the effort on the south end of downtown involved "keeping together the original buildings," the north end provides an opportunity for "clearing and rebuilding," Dunn said. "In order to do that, you've got to assemble land," he said.

City officials said Tuesday their goal is to create a multi-million-dollar mixed-use development that includes residential, retail and office space -- but no specific plans have been agreed upon, Watkins and Dunn said.

"There's interest, but we have not reached agreements with specific developers," Dunn said.

Downtown developer Randall Spradley said he has been working for four years to encourage a public-private partnership to spark construction on the vacant land. Spradley said his company, Astin Partners, isn't planning to develop the property.

"The Lawrence Group is an award-winning high-density, mixed-use urban redeveloper," he said, touting the firm that is in talks with city officials. "This is a good thing. This property assembly is conservative, rational and appropriate."

Bryan agrees to buy land

By APRIL AVISON

Eagle Staff Writer

Full Article

The Bryan City Council entered a $2.1 million contract Monday to buy the Twin City Mission's downtown shelter and help the agency relocate. The mission's properties on Main Street and Bryan Avenue are adjacent to 3.28 acres the city purchased in December for about $2 million. The city is assembling the acreage downtown to market it for a $100 million retail, office and residential development. Once the Twin City land deal and a pending contract with Habitat for Humanity are finalized, Bryan will own about 6 1/2 blocks in the northern part of the downtown area, Mayor Mark Conlee said Monday.

"Any time we have developers come in and they have to deal with multiple landowners and multiple lots, we could lose them," Conlee said, explaining that the city has now assembled more than 12 individual properties. "We want all that out of the way. We want clean titles and a piece of land where we can say we've created an environment that's ready for development to occur."

City Manager David Watkins has met with St. Louis-developer The Lawrence Group, which specializes in downtown redevelopment, but no agreements have been entered.

"We want high-density mixed use," Conlee said Monday. "We want to facilitate this for a developer and make it easier for them."

City officials also are attempting to make transition easier for the Twin City Mission, Deputy City Manager Joey Dunn said Monday. Bryan agreed to lease shelter space to the mission for $10 per month until April 2009. The mission is raising money to build a new $5.5 million building near Sims and 31st streets. The agency already owns the land -- which is within walking distance of downtown Bryan -- but still needs more than $3 million to cover building costs, Weedon said.

The city agreed Monday to pay about $600,000 to the mission for its downtown property, $400,000 for relocation expenses and $1 million toward constructing the new facility. Bryan also agreed to put up $100,000 as interest money so the agency can obtain a construction loan if necessary. "Today was about more than just downtown," Dunn said. "We're the first entity to step up and be part of [the mission's] capital campaign. This is certainly a win-win for everybody."

The city isn't finished with its work. Two more properties are needed to complete the land assembly, Dunn said. Bryan administrators are negotiating with the owners, Habitat for Humanity, to buy two lots on West 22nd Street.

There's no timeline for when the mixed-use project will be constructed, Dunn said. "We can start as soon as we get a developer in place," he said.

The City Council adopted a master plan for downtown Bryan in 2001. The southern end of the district has been redeveloped to preserve historic facades, while plans for the north end call for bulldozing some of the older properties to pave the way for new development, officials said Monday. John Hendry, executive director of the Downtown Bryan Economic Development Association, said purchasing property on the north end of the district is "a good move for everyone."

"It should speed up the redevelopment of north downtown by the private sector, which will complement the ongoing revitalization we have seen in the southern half of downtown," he said. "Our association is very pleased to see the proactive steps by the city to enhance redevelopment opportunities."

Mayor Conlee said investing in downtown makes sense because the area is "the heart of the community."

"It's our history. It's our culture. It's our flavor of the city," Conlee said. "It's cool to be downtown now."

Edited by Scotch
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