Updated 2 p.m. March 9: This story originally stated the contract to purchase was finalized in early March, and the plan was proposed by Jody Czajkoski. After speaking to other city officials, the story was updated to say the city has not yet closed on a deal. Mentions of proposed partnerships were also removed, as Community Impact Newspaper has been unable to verify these discussions.
After years of discussion, the city of Conroe is finalizing its plans to purchase a location for a new performing arts center: Conroe ISD’s Sam Houston Elementary School, located downtown.
The plan is to take the aging school building plus an additional 11 acres in downtown Conroe and convert it to a world-class performing arts center while preserving the building's original architectural elements, Council Member Jody Czajkoski said.
“It works right in for our revitalization plan of the community,” Czajkoski said. “And we’re taking a piece of history of Conroe and preserving that history.”
City Administrator Paul Virgadamo said the city has been eyeing the Sam Houston school for years but has not yet closed on a deal, and it is too early to discuss details. Mayor Toby Powell said that if a contract was closed, CISD would have three years before it would need to hand the property over to the city.
"It's an incredible opportunity for the city to take," Powell said.
Czajkoski said he is supportive of the plan.
“We thought it would be a wonderful idea to give the greater Conroe Arts Alliance community what they have been asking for, for 20 years,” Czajkoski said.
For years, local arts groups have voiced the need for a new performing arts center in Conroe, as many use local churches for rehearsals, performances and office and meeting space, Czajkoski said. A new center would also benefit the entire city, he said.
“A beautifully appointed auditorium would make it possible for touring groups, requiring larger seating capacities, to stop over in Conroe on their way from Dallas to Houston and other destinations,” he said. “At the moment, the lack of a [performing arts center] venue limits [opportunities and] experiences for the citizens of Conroe.”