Bastrop citizens got a chance to weigh in on the future of the vacant lot at 921 Main Street during a public forum at City Hall on February 13th. The information session was hosted by Bastrop Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Shawn Kirkpatrick, who presented four options being considered. The BEDC acquired the space from the City for $4 and is helping to direct discussions of ‘where to go next’ with the project. Key to that process is getting public input, Kirkpatrick said.
At the next BEDC Board of Directors meeting on Monday, February 27, Kirkpatrick will present an executive summary report including the public input received from Monday night, from the Main Street’s Design Committee, and in meetings with neighboring property owners.
Background: The vacant lot has been empty since a fire destroyed the building in 2003. In 2016, due to damage sustained by the neighboring buildings, the Bastrop City Council approved the BEDC acquiring the lot and determining its future use. “The BEDC is committed to mitigating the site issues through working with the neighbors and community to develop an actionable plan to remedy the site conditions,” Kirkpatrick said.
The vacant lot has been used for varied activities over the years – live music, an ice skating rink during the holiday season, and for other events/displays during Yesterfest and other Main Street-centered events. The space’s footprint – approximately 4,000 sq. ft. – consists of a cement slab/base with walls on three sides: a back wall with a walk-thru to a parking lot; a common wall with Baxters on Main on the south side; and a common wall with Relics on the north side. The U-shape space’s open fourth side fronts Main Street.
The BEDC engaged an engineering and architectural firm, KSA Engineers, to provide an opinion of probable cost on various options. After a site visit by the project architect, the original scope was modified to include the following options: Stabilize the current site (and mitigate moisture issues); Create a public open space; Create a public open space with a covered area; Or in-fill for a potential building. Additionally, the Texas Historical Commission did a Town Square Initiative Study on the site. Their report was presented as part of the public input session. The BEDC also had a Phase I environmental site assessment and geotechnical investigation performed at the site.
Kirkpatrick said regardless of what option is selected, “Until the foundation is removed (and replaced) it is not usable space.” The annual maintenance and operations cost to just maintain the plaza/slab could range from $70,000-$85,000 annually.
Kirkpatrick explained ownership of the two walls on either side of the concrete slab, by Main Street businesses Baxters on Main and Relics, is a unique situation – a ‘shared-wall’ ownership with the BEDC. The two walls are approximately 18 inches thick on each side, and were previously interior walls, before the fire burned down the building. The walls have some moisture and support issues that are being addressed – both by the BEDC and the two business owners monitoring their respective interior sides of the walls.
For more information, please call the Bastrop EDC office, 512-332-8870, or the Bastrop Main Street office, 512-332-8996.