The City of Brownwood and Municipal Development District have been discussing and developing plans for a new multipurpose event center for over four years. This project was one of the primary reasons Brownwood converted to a municipal development district in 2016, with the intent to use economic development sales tax for a multipurpose event center.
After researching numerous event centers in cities across the state, City leadership decided to focus on preserving and redeveloping existing buildings in the Historic Depot Civic and Cultural Complex to embrace the rich history of the area, coordinate with existing meeting facilities, and reduce the cost of building from ground up.
Purpose of Project
The goal of this project is to create a new rentable multipurpose event space with indoor and outdoor components to help facilitate events and conventions that will create a positive economic impact on the local economy and business growth.
There are 3 main elements of the project that will be a part of the new event complex. Construction for the facility will be completed in two separate phases.
Ice House Stage/Pavilion
The existing Ice House building on Lee Street is in the process of being demolished down to its foundation to erect a new structure in its place. This new structure will function as a stage for large events, small gatherings, and concerts. It can also serve as spill-over outdoor space for the larger event center. A small enclosed structure will be built adjacent to the stage to contain support space and additional meeting rooms. The open event green space we can easily accommodate 7,500 spectators with additional depending on crowd control and setup. The max occupancy for under the Pavillion is 462 with tables and chairs, and just under 1,000 seated auditorium style.
Outdoor Improvements/Site Work
The site surrounding the Ice House will be divided into the large viewing lawn/festival ground stretching east (the current RV Park) and a small viewing lawn to the south. This will allow for more flexibility use for all size and types of events. The large viewing lawn will be fenced and will be available as a mini-festival ground for a variety of outdoor events. Parking will be developed in surrounding City-owned property along with new property acquisition for expanded parking.
The last phase of the project will be the development of the event center inside of what is known as the Timmins building on the corner of Baker and Greenleaf. Originally built as a warehouse for the Radford Grocery Company in the 1920s, the building will be converted into a multipurpose event center with spaces for conventions and breakout activities. Currently unnamed, the Event Center will also be ideal for banquets, weddings, and a multitude of other event types. The intent of the aesthetic is the bring in modern features while preserving the building’s original industrial character.
To leverage our local event facilities, the City of Brownwood has engaged Howard Payne University in a 10 year lease of the Brownwood Coliseum. HPU will take over all operations and operational expenses under a new agreement and will continue to rent out the facility for public events, as the schedule allows. HPU will commit to make significant improvements to the facility including a new HVAC unit and a new ceiling system. This new agreement will allow the City of Brownwood to transfer all operational expenses from the Brownwood Coliseum to the new multipurpose event center.
Project Funding Sources
The construction project will primarily be funded by existing Brownwood Municipal Development District economic development sales tax. The BMDD intends to allocate $4.5 million in cash reserves for the initial phases of the project. Since this will be a multi-year construction project, the BMDD will be able to expense part of this project over two fiscal years as well. If any financing is required to complete the project, the City may borrow funds that the BMDD will pay the debt service on through subsequent fiscal year budgets. There is also $350,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds that will be allocated to the project.
With Howard Payne University taking over the operations and staffing of the Coliseum, that portion of the City’s community facilities budget will be re-allocated to the new multipurpose complex for operations and staffing. The City will also renegotiate the Hotel Occupancy Tax contract with the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce for additional funds which will allow for full operations of the new facility that will be budget neutral to the City of Brownwood.
With approvals in October 2020, BRW Architects will began their work in December 2020 on the full design of all phases of the project. The estimated start of construction on the Ice House is Fall of 2021, to be complete by the end of Spring 2022. The Event Center renovations are expected to begin Spring 2022 and take around 10 months to complete.
The City expects to seek bids for Phase I of the project later this summer with construction to being in early fall. Plans for Phase II of the project, which will include a banquet hall and additional meeting rooms are expected to be complete by the end of the year with construction to begin in early 2022.