New Braunfels Utilities officials revealed plans Nov. 19 to transform the NBU headquarters at 263 Main Plaza in New Braunfels into a boutique downtown hotel named The Mainzer. The project would also include a restaurant, bar, social gathering space and parking garage.

A collaboration between Seals Family Properties of New Braunfels, Douglas Architects, construction company Kingham Dalton Wilson of Houston and Gillum Development, the team was one of six to provide a proposal in January in response to NBU’s request for quote and one of three that responded to their request for proposal in May.

In January 2020, NBU announced plans to construct a new headquarters off Loop 337, adjacent to the NBU Trinity Well Field and Treatment Plant that would consolidate personnel and assets from the Main Plaza location and a service center located at 355 FM 306.

The agreement comes after years of planning with the city of New Braunfels to develop an overlay district that would require the property site’s future owner to maintain the historic integrity of NBU’s current location, NBU CEO Ian Taylor said.

“In 2018, when we completed our facilities master plan, one of the key recommendations out of that master plan was to sell this Main Plaza office, which is our main business location, as well as our service center out on [FM 306]—which has a lot of our field functions, and engineering and purchasing—and then relocate the company under one roof and in a place central within our service territories. And when that recommendation came out, our new board of trustees didn't want to just put a for sale sign in the front yard and take the highest bidder for a piece of property,” Taylor said.

Taylor said because of the building’s historic significance and the footprint of the location—about one-quarter of the Main Plaza—NBU wanted to have a thorough process involving local developers, community members, and business and property owners to provide input before going forward with the plans. NBU’s headquarters has been located at that facility since 1942 and consists of three connected buildings, he said.

A memorandum of understanding will be presented to the NBU board of trustees Jan. 27 to allow the utility exclusive negotiations with the group of developers on the project.

“We did some diagram studies to sort of test fit the site and really laid the foundation for the developer teams that would be proposing on this project. And so through that process, we identified a parking shortage and the need for structured parking,” said Andrew Douglas of Douglas Architects. “So one of the key components to this plan is a parking structure that's located sort of on the back side of the development. That effort was actually very informative for the overlay,” he said.

NBU is planning on moving into a new headquarters in the spring or summer of 2024, said NBU Chief Operating Officer Ryan Kelso, and a timeline for the redevelopment of the downtown site is forthcoming.