TX legislators push for Astrodome rehab bill
- Texas lawmakers are backing a bill that would require voter approval for any renovation of the Astrodome in Houston, according to the Houston Business Journal.
- Harris County officials want to spend $105 million to create 500,000 square feet of rentable space inside the iconic sports venue — which now sits vacant — as well as bring 1,400 parking spaces underneath its dome.
- State lawmakers said Harris County voters rejected a previous $217 million, taxpayer-supported renovation that would have turned the Astrodome into a convention center, so they should also be able to decide on this latest proposed rehab.
The Astrodome opened in 1965 and was dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World," according to the Houston Chronicle, because of its size and because it was the first indoor, air-conditioned football and baseball stadium.
Part of the pushback against the convention center plan in 2013 was the probability that the Astrodome would have been demolished. Subsequently, the venue was designated a State Antiquities Landmark. That designation will now likely play into any proposed repurposing.
If Harris County is allowed to move forward with such a renovation, that would put the Astrodome squarely in the category of adaptive reuse, the philosophy of taking a blighted or abandoned property and converting it into something new and useful. The adaptive reuse process can be as straight-forward as a conversion of a parking garage to a public plaza or old train tracks into recreation areas.
Gina Ford, principal landscape architect at Sasaki Associates in Boston, told Construction Dive in December that the recession most likely played a role in the adaptive reuse trend, as public-agency budgets were squeezed to the point of not being able to afford — or justify — new construction.
Adaptive reuse also allows historic properties, like the Astrodome, to serve their communities in new ways while still retaining the appearance and qualities that made them significant community fixtures in the first place.
- Houston Business Journal Astrodome bill OK’d by Texas Senate, moves to House
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter