Cedar Park explores Town Center, Bell Boulevard redevelopment as future library sites

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The city of Cedar Park is evaluating locations for its new library.

Cedar Park voters approved $20.5 million for renovations or construction of the city’s library in a 2015 bond. In the fiscal year 2017-18 budget the city set aside $45,000 for an assessment to help evaluate potential locations and library programs.

Cedar Park City Council began to narrow down library options in November by focusing on two possible sites for the facility and what the building could offer.

During a November council meeting, Library Director Julia Mitschke said several modern library concepts include space for people to work, study and read, and they also include collaborative spaces with technology. Some facilities include large auditoriums and amphitheaters for events, lectures or performances.

“Libraries are adapting a lot; they’re not just book repositories anymore,” she said. “They meet a variety of needs, and more and more they are community centers, so you have people that are looking for a gathering space.”

Katherine Caffrey, Cedar Park assistant city manager, walked through three options for the future facility.

The first option is to build a new 50,000-square-foot library. Caffrey said the plan would offer the most design flexibility by building a facility to fit the city’s needs. She said City Council could also choose to expand the facility in the future if needed.

The second option is to join with a development partner to build a 70,000-square-foot library in phases, Caffrey said. The plan includes an additional 80,000-square foot facility, such as a museum or a civic center, for a 150,000-square-foot shared facility.

Caffrey said the plan would need 12-14 acres, and she said the city would need a partner that has a good track record and reliable funds.

Council also discussed expanding and renovating the current library at 550 Discovery Blvd., though council members directed city staff to focus on the first two options.

The city owns about 5 acres in the Cedar Park Town Center, which sits next to the Cedar Park Recreation Center on Main Street. The site was identified in the 2014 library master plan as a potential site for the new library.

Council also discussed housing the new library in the future Bell Boulevard redevelopment. Cedar Park is currently in the process of realigning about 1 mile of US 183 near Buttercup Creek Boulevard, which will open up space that city leaders hope to create into a mixed-use “destination” district.

Council Member Heather Jefts said for the new library to offer several modern concepts and be viable it would need to be located where the city plans to have lots of people.

“I think it order to get the library to be a lot of things, it makes more sense to have it in the downtown district, the Bell Boulevard district, then in Town Center, because there just won’t be as much foot traffic there; there won’t be as many people driving through there,” she said.

Council Member Cobby Caputo was not sure if the library would fit in the middle of what the city plans to be its entertainment district.

“My prediction is [the development partner]is not going to be interested in giving up potential space that they can sell or lease to people to have a bigger library, but that’s why I want to wait until we get to talk to the [consultant],” he said. 

Caffrey said the city hopes to hire a consultant by the end of the year to evaluate the potential locations and library offerings. The city is scheduled to begin design on the library in 2019.

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COMMENT
  1. Odette Rawcliffe

    The Town Center is surrounded by ample retail drawing traffic to its site. That being said, I don’t think retail establishments are the primary draw for a modern library. Libraries have an ambiance all their own and offer a multitude of experiences to residents without needing the support of the Bell Boulevard project or any other endeavor. It would be wise to let the library cater to, and expand, its own clientel with respect given to its fundamental purpose which is not to draw consumers to other retail venues.

Caitlin covers Cedar Park and Leander city councils and reports on education, transportation, government and business news. She is an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin. Most recently, Caitlin produced a large-scale investigative project with The Dallas Morning News and led education coverage in the Brazos Valley at The Bryan-College Station Eagle. After interning with Community Impact Newspaper for two summers, she joined the staff as a reporter in 2015.
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