The projects, part of a tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ, include an investment in a town center, Old Fitzhugh Road, downtown parking and the triangle development. According to the Dripping Springs website, a TIRZ captures a portion of the new, rising tax base occurring within rapidly developing target areas and then makes funds available to help fund identified projects.
Keenan Smith, Dripping Springs’ TIRZ project manager, presented the project updates to City Council during a Dec. 21 meeting.
The project aims to provide an open space for residents and visitors. It would host festivals, markets and events, according to the Dripping Springs website.
Smith said that the project is “not where we hoped we would be by the end of the year,” citing a Dripping Springs ISD facility that the city had initially planned to use as a centerpiece of the project. The city is now exploring other locations to serve as the heart of downtown.
He added that parks and green spaces will be crucial to the town center's success.
Old Fitzhugh Road
The Old Fitzhugh Road project is progressing toward a potential completion in 2024. Smith said negotiations with an engineering firm are underway.
“We hope to bring that contract forward to council possibly in January,” Smith said.
The project aims to improve the road by adding an 8-foot wide sidewalk and improving drainage. Costs for the project have increased to $6.2 million, which Smith attributed in part to supply chain issues.
Downtown parking area
The downtown parking area, located in the Mercer Street Historic District, aims to take inventory of existing parking and create new parking options.
Smith said that the Stephenson Building offers a good option for the city to expand its parking facilities.
“We are from there working on a concept plan, or have a concept plan, for the Stephenson parking lot just to the north of Stephenson Building, which would both enable the adaptive reuse of Stephenson Building, which we will get completely back from the VFW post once they move to their new facilities, and also provide that locus for downtown parking that would serve both the Mercer district and the Old Fitzhugh Road district to the north,” Smith said.
The Triangle was originally framed as a possible entryway into downtown Dripping Springs.
However, Smith said that two issues have stymied the project thus far: It sits in a flood plain, and the Texas Department of Transportation is considering widening Hwy. 290 in the area.
Smith added that a subcommittee is looking into expanding the TIRZ and will meet in 2022.