Harris County commissioners announced a $105 million repurposing plan for the Houston Astrodome at the June 28 commissioners court meeting. The proposed Astrodome Revitalization Project would turn the building from an idle storage facility to a venue for Houston events.
The 51-year-old structure could house a parking garage and 9 acres of open space to accommodate events and leases.
“It’s a fully paid asset that belongs to Harris County, and we need to put it to use,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said.
The repurposing plan includes raising the floor of the Astrodome to ground level and constructing a subterranean parking garage that will accommodate 1,400 vehicles.
While details are still being ironed out about the parking facility, Emmett suggested that people attending events at the adjacent NRG Stadium could have access to the parking garage as well.
Events the Astrodome might accommodate include conferences and annual festivals, Emmett said.
“The livestock and rodeo show could use nine acres of climate controlled covered space for their food court,” he said. “[The repurposed Astrodome] provides a new venue for the 100 festivals and gatherings in the community.” [totalpoll id="165209"]
The Astrodome space, once restructured, could also be used to lease office, retail or restaurant space, he said.
Revenue for the building could come from such sources as the parking garage and leasing fees, Emmett said. There will be no property tax increase involved in the repurposing of the structure, he said.
The money to restructure the Astrodome will be through financing, Emmett said.
“It’s a historic building and icon of our community, so we need to keep it for that, but it only makes sense if you realize that it’s fully paid for and in sound condition,” he said.
In order to move forward with the project, the county must first present its plan to the Texas Historical Commission, which then determines the next steps for the building.
“Hopefully by September Harris County Commissioners Court will vote to include this in next year’s budget, and by then Bill Jackson and the finance department will come up with a plan on how they will pay for this,” Emmett said.
Alternatively, the Astrodome’s demolition would cost $30 million, Emmett said.
Emmett said when he hears people talk about tearing the Astrodome down, he questions why the county would spend tens of millions of dollars to destroy an asset that could be turned into useable space.
“That just doesn’t make any sense to take a perfectly good historic building and destroy it for no reason,” he said.