A year’s worth of work, decades of data and feedback from residents has culminated in the city of Buda's new Downtown Master Plan, adopted by City Council on Sept. 5 and set to guide the area's future.

The gist

In September of last year, city staff began working with urban design and planning firm Lionheart Places to take inventory of the city's demographics, assess the state of downtown, and provide recommendations for projects and programming for the area.

The plan also outlines five goals:
  • Extend and expand the downtown experience
  • Enhance streets and public spaces for pedestrians
  • Integrate natural areas, parks and trails into the downtown experience
  • Increase revenue generated in downtown
  • Develop and implement a unique design, aesthetic and brand
“You don't have a really long, exhaustive list of recommendations, but you do have some really key ones that were strategic, and they're strategic in a way because those improvements will hopefully stimulate some of that development that will bring that return on the investments that you make on improvements in downtown,” said Abigail Gillfillan, Lionheart Places principal planner and partner.

The breakdown

The plan presents five projects, three programs and three policies to either update or implement to reach the plan goals.

The projects are:
  • Austin Street reconstruction with new elements, such as sidewalks and commercial development
  • South Main Street improvements, such as expanded sidewalks and additional parking
  • Utilizing both sides of Main Street at Houston Street for increased walkability and foot traffic for local businesses
  • Creating and connecting trails for better connectivity and accessibility as well as opportunities for more dining and recreation options
  • Repurposing the old Historic Buda Campus in commercial or residential ventures
All of these projects, if executed, could bring additional sidewalks, parking spots, trees, and opportunities for commercial and retail development for the city.

The trails project would bring in miles of new trails to encourage and promote healthy lifestyles and connectivity throughout the community.

Lastly, the Historic Buda Campus, located at 300 San Marcos St., is utilized by the Hays CISD board of trustees meetings but could be used for businesses and restaurants.

For an in-depth look at each of the projects, check out Pages 41-48 of the plan.

The three programs recommended for implementation are:
  • Sidewalk and Pedestrian Safety Program
  • Parking Action Plan
  • Seeking a Cultural District Designation through the Texas Commission of the Arts
The safety program would help enhance the safety and convenience of the downtown area with some smaller-scale improvements that are not as costly as others.

The parking plan is twofold: It would increase the number of parking spots and create strong parking management.

The cultural designation would attract more artists, encourage business and employment, establish the area as a tourist destination and more, according to the plan.

The policies outlined in the plan are as follows:
  • Update the Unified Development Code to support revitalization and redevelopment in downtown
  • Establish a Downtown Financing District to generate revenue
  • Implement a Regional Stormwater Management Plan
What to expect

Short-term projects, such as the reconstruction of Austin Street, could be completed within the next five years, while midterm projects, such as the Regional Stormwater Management Plan, could take up to 10 years to complete. Long-term projects, such as the repurposing of the Historic Buda Campus, could take more than 10 years to complete.

Some projects are already funded through previous bond elections, while funding for others will have to be sought out through budget allocations and government grants.