Monday, September 18, 2000 by

Architects reveal plans for new

Plans recently unveiled call for another downtown center along the banks of Waller Creek at Town Lake, incorporating world-class architecture with open public space, a hike and bike trail, and links to the Austin Convention Center. It’s not Vignette, but the new Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC).

The Center for Mexican American Cultural Arts Inc. (CMACA) not only has a new, interim executive director, Juan Oyervides, but also a new design plan for the MACC. Plans were unveiled on September 9th, at the final meeting for public input, for a $40-50 million building on a 5.9-acre tract.

Jaime Beaman, with CasaBella Architects of Austin, one of the architects working on the project, said his firm is in a joint venture with Del Campo & Maru of San Francisco, in association with Teodoro Gonzalaz de Leon of Mexico City.

“It’s approximately 126,000 square feet total, plus parking, plus a shaded, outdoor plaza,” Beaman said. “This is the best site on Town Lake. It’s right on the jogging trail. It’s an extraordinary site; it’s beautiful,” he said.

The center, at 600 River St., will probably be comprised of four buildings total, Beaman added. “The two-story, crescent-shaped building that creates the plaza will contain exhibition space, classrooms, offices, some commercial space, like a coffee shop or a book shop, and support spaces, like storage and bathrooms,” he said. “The next building would be multi-purpose space for large functions as well as for performing arts.” The next two buildings, he said, will house a 200- to 300-seat theater and an 800-seat theater.

And there is space for an outdoor theater, perhaps to the west, in a “little meadow between our site and Waller Creek,” he said. “It really lends itself to be an outdoor amphitheater. There’s going to be a pedestrian link between the MACC and Waller Creek,” he said, and a pedestrian bridge between the MACC site and the Austin Convention Center, two blocks north.

The boundaries of the site are one block off of Rainey St. on the east, Waller Creek on the west, Town Lake on the south, and some apartments on the north, Beaman said. “The master plan will be completed in early November and the city has November and December to review and approve it.” The master plan calls for a ballpark figure of $7.5 million for phase one. Hopefully, in Jan. 2001, he said, the firms will begin construction drawings so they can soon thereafter get bids on the construction. MACC promoters want to begin construction in early 2002, he said, and are hoping to have phase one complete by Cinco de Mayo, 2003. “Theoretically there would be about three phases.”

“The intention is that the CMACA board is going to get after it and raise funds for construction,” Beaman said.

Oyervides said the outdoor amphitheater would have a plaza with green space, seating to accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 people, and an outdoor stage on a bluff directly above Town Lake. The vision is to have the MACC facility flow together with the adjacent parkland to create an open, public area.

Oyervides became the interim executive director of CMACA on September 6th, the first official director of the two-decade old organization, which was incorporated in 1997. He was hired by the board, he said; Roen Salinas, of Aztlan Dance Co., is president of the board. Oyervides said the board is now expanding from nine-members to thirteen, with the four new members to be appointed by the City Council, according to a recently amended agreement between the CMACA and the city.( see In Fact Daily, June 8, 2000) To see a drawing of the center, click here: centermodel.jpg

Infrastructure improvements to create Round Rock's new Municipal Office Campus (MOC) are also intended to spur a new retail and commercial corridor along Brown Street in Downtown Round Rock.

Last week, Tim Jenkins, program manager for the Public Works Department, presented a basic infrastructure plan for streets, drainage and traffic on the proposed Municipal Office Campus to the Round Rock City Council. The MOC, which will unfold in three phases over the next five to eight years, is intended to serve the growing need for city services over the next 20 years. More than 53,000 people currently live in Round Rock. An additional 30,000 live in the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction.

For many years, a converted fire station served as Round Rock's city hall, Jenkins said. The Municipal Office Campus, not far from the city's current offices on East Main Street, will include the city's first dedicated City Hall, an existing fire station and an office building for Municipal Courts and the Parks and Recreation Department. Once the move is completed, the Round Rock Police Department will move into the space now occupied by the parks department, Jenkins said.

The first two phases of the MOC project–the two-story office building on Brown Street at Bagdad Avenue and the infrastructure improvements along the Brown Street corridor and its cross-streets– are likely to be completed concurrently over the next year, Jenkins said.

The improvements along Brown Street and a regional water quality pond off McNeil Road are also intended to bring business to downtown, Jenkins said.

"The reason a regional water quality pond even came up was because of our discussions with the Downtown Business Association," Jenkins said. "We started working with them a year ago and we asked them at that time, 'What are some of the initiatives that the city can really do to help small businesses in downtown Round Rock?'"

Businesses told Jenkins that access was a major issue. Downtown Round Rock–much of it historic –has few retail-friendly intersections. Limited parking was an issue, as well as the commitment local businesses must make to meet city water quality requirements, which often requires the consultation of an engineer. City efforts on the MOC will help businesses defray some of those costs, Jenkins said.

Jenkins describes Brown Street as the "spine" of the MOC project. Improvements to the three blocks between Round Rock Avenue and Florence Street will provide paved sidewalks, streetscape furniture, landscaping and antique lighting, Jenkins said. Substantial diagonal parking will be added along Brown Street, as well as West Main Street, Bagdad Avenue and Florence Street.

The infrastructure plan did draw some questions from Round Rock City Council. City officials must still decide whether to punch Brown Street through to McNeil Road or whether Brown Street should stand on its own as a kind of "view corridor" to the future City Hall. City Councilmember Carrie Pitt was concerned that cut-through traffic be minimized. Other councilmembers asked questions about the drainage plans on the property and the long-term expansion potential of the City Hall building.

The Round Rock City Council issued $6 million in certificates of obligation to pay for the 24,000-square-foot Municipal Courts/Parks and Recreation Department office building and its adjoining 45-space parking lot, as well as the design plans for infrastructure and an overall master plan for the MOC. The Municipal Courts building should be completed by next fall, Jenkins said.

The city will be asking citizens for their comments on a master plan, which is scheduled to be completed this winter. That master plan will offer alternatives for the materials, layout and orientation of the buildings, including the new City Hall. The Brown Street Corridor Improvements will likely be paid for out of this year's budget, Jenkins said. The cost of City Hall has not been determined and nor are there plans for its financing. Those issues will be decided after the council hears citizen input in the upcoming town hall meetings, Jenkins said…

©2000 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Rumor city…Was it the sound of a hundred bees buzzing at One Texas Center on Friday ? No, more like a hundred tongues wagging, as employees of the Development Review and Inspection Department worried aloud over rumored changes at the top of their department. Meanwhile, at City Hall, the heads of several development-related departments met with Deputy City Manager Toby Futrell, who said she could not comment on the rumors… Signs of change…The city council for the Village of Wimberley is scheduled to consider adoption of an interim sign ordinance and appointment of a sign ordinance committee this Wednesday. The council has already enacted a moratorium on non-residential construction within the village while the council works on a zoning code. Council Member Walter Brown said the moratorium would be in place for six months or until the zoning code is enacted, whichever comes earlier. Brown was chosen by fellow council members to take the lead on zoning and planning. He said the council is considering whether to enact a moratorium on construction of telecommunications towers… Deal pending… Attorneys for the Rainey Street neighborhood and Gordon Dunaway have agreed on the content of a letter of intent from Dunaway to purchase lots in the historic area. The neighborhood’s negotiating committee is expected to forward the letter to property owners this week. Nikelle Meade of Brown McCarroll & Oaks Hartline represents Dunaway and Jim Nassour is representing the Rainey Street owners. Light Rail Now v. ROAD… Capital Metro’s board will be discussing the light rail route and mitigation measures along that route inside the Cap Metro offices at 2910 E. 5th St., beginning at 5:30 p.m. today. Meanwhile, ROAD, the anti-rail group has scheduled a press conference outside the building at 6 p.m. In response, Light Rail NOW, the pro-rail grass roots group, is asking rail supporters to show up at the same spot, bearing a pro-rail sign.

© 2000 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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