Brownwood City Council and the Brownwood Municipal Development District (BMDD) took action on Monday to approve the construction of a new multipurpose event center. Council awarded the construction contract to Waldrop Construction for the project, and site work is scheduled to begin in April with an estimated completion of fall 2023.
“This project has been a goal of the City of Brownwood for several years,” said Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes. “We started exploring the development of a new event center about 10 years ago by touring facilities in other cities and talking to architects about design possibilities.”
The main feature of the development is an approximately 16,000 sq ft event center and banquet hall known as the Timmins building on the corner of Baker and Greenleaf. Originally built as a warehouse for the Radford Grocery Company in the 1920s, the building will be converted into a multipurpose event center with spaces for conventions and breakout activities. Currently unnamed, the Event Center will also be ideal for banquets, weddings, and a multitude of other event types. The intent of the aesthetic is to bring in modern features while preserving the building’s original industrial character. “After touring several facilities and vising many cities, we learned this type of facility will provide the highest possible use and benefit for our community,” said Mayor Haynes.
The existing Ice House building on Lee Street has been demolished down to its foundation to erect a new structure in its place. The new structure will feature a premier stage for large events, and a secondary stage for smaller gatherings and concerts. The covered pavilion and stage will also serve as spill-over outdoor space for the larger event center. The open event green space can easily accommodate 7,500 spectators or more, depending on crowd control and setup. An additional 1,400 sq ft structure will be built adjacent to the stage to contain restrooms, support space, and additional meeting rooms.
Reunion Lawn, the site surrounding the Ice House, will include a large viewing lawn/festival ground stretching east (current RV Park) and a small viewing lawn to the south. This will allow for more flexible use for all sizes and types of events. The large viewing lawn will be fenced and available as a mini-festival ground for a variety of outdoor events. The lawn will accommodate 16 food truck connections. Additional parking will be developed on property owned or leased by the City.
Total construction cost will be $14,267,000 with the BMDD funding approximately 85% through economic development sales tax funds. These funds are generated by an existing ½ cent sales tax and do not come out of the city’s general fund.
“The ability of the Brownwood Municipal Development District to participate in this type of project was the main selling point for the election held in 2016,” Haynes said. The vote in 2016, which passed overwhelmingly, converted the former Economic Development Corporation into the current Municipal Development District. “We told the voters at that time that we were planning this type of facility, and it is rewarding to see those plans finally come to fruition,” said Haynes.
The BMDD has allocated $7 million in cash reserves for this project and will contribute another $5 million through sales tax revenue bonds, which can only be repaid with economic development sales tax dollars. The remaining funds will be contributed by the City of Brownwood through surplus sales tax revenues and savings in the budget from ARPA funds over the next two years.
Once complete, the new Brownwood facility will be available to the public as a rentable event space. City staff has identified and will be recruiting out of town events and conferences to the facility with hopes to further compliment tourism and the revitalization of Downtown Brownwood.
Additional information and conceptual drawings of the project are available at Brownwoodtexas.gov/eventcenter