Brownwood council moves forward on $8.9 million event center

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
The Brownwood City Council gave final approvals Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 to move forward with the development of a multipurpose event center in downtown Brownwood.

The Brownwood City Council gave final approvals Tuesday to move forward with the development of a multipurpose event center in downtown Brownwood.

Funding for the construction of the project will come entirely from economic development sales tax dollars that have been saved over the past few years for an impactful project, the City of Brownwood said in a press release.

The estimated cost of the entire project is $8.9 million. The city will operate the new facility using existing budget funds. Howard Payne University is working with the city to take over operations of the Coliseum for University and public use.

The project is expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months. 

“I think the council’s decision today is a visionary step for the city in that it’s creating a space that our residents and visitors will be able to use for many many years to come,” Brownwood City Manager Emily Crawford said.

“I think it will become a hub for community activities, entertainment, festivals, professional groups to come and gather that will only spur on additional job development, create additional jobs in the community and provide a high quality of life amenity to add to all of the other wonderful things that we have in Brownwood.”

Crawford said the city has been slow and “incredibly methodical” with the project. She said the city has found a way to fill a community need at a manageable cost.

According to the city’s press release:

“The intent to use economic development sales tax for a multipurpose event center benefiting the community was one of the primary reasons that Brownwood converted to a Municipal Development District. Today we are excited to officially launch our plans into action,” said Ray Tipton, executive director of the Brownwood Municipal Development District. 

The project will create a new indoor and outdoor event space to host events and conventions, creating a positive economic impact on the local economy, a City of Brownwood press release states.

This redevelopment project will transform the 700 block of E. Baker Street and Lee Street into a new event space.

“This proposal intentionally focuses on preserving and redeveloping Brownwood’s existing buildings. By embracing the rich history of our community, we can expand on existing meeting facilities and increase our competitiveness in Texas’ event market,” said Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes.

The event center project is similar to the Massey Sports Complex project the city constructed with economic development funds.

 “We created a high-quality sports facility for our residents to enjoy that we also use to host tournaments that bring in thousands of visitors each year,” Haynes said. 

The renovations to the Timmins building and adjacent Ice House buildings support the city’s goals of offering quality meeting and event space and continuing the revitalization of downtown Brownwood, the press release states.

The proposed design by BRW Architects transforms the downtown landmark into a flexible event center that can accommodate a variety of activities. The Ice House provides covered outdoor space, ideal for large concerts or casual gatherings. The proposed design for the event center retains the former grocery storage facility’s recognizable brick facade. 

The interior design preserves the building’s original industrial character with a blend of modern features. The event center will accommodate a variety of activities, from large conventions and banquets to intimate weddings and other small gatherings.

Long unused and in an irreversible state of disrepair, the original Ice House is being demolished. The plan calls for a new structure to be built upon the existing foundation. The new structure will be similar in size and provides a permanent stage for outdoor performances. The space will also serve as an overflow and outdoor gathering space for activities in the adjacent event center.

The project represents an opportunity for the City of Brownwood to positively impact tourism and economic development in Historic Downtown. Already home to several lively events, the City has lacked mid-sized venues for regional conferences. 

The proposed redevelopment of the Timmins and Ice House buildings will fill that void, creating space that can be used for a multitude of purposes.