Brownwood council OKs parking lot grant for Common Grounds' new home

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
The former Central Fire Station at Austin and Main is being renovated and will be the new home of the Common Grounds Coffeehouse.

Common Grounds Coffeehouse will receive an $85,000 reimbursement grant from the Brownwood Municipal Development District to pave a parking lot at the former Central Fire Station, which will be the coffeeshop’s new home.

Brownwood City Council members on Tuesday ratified earlier action by the municipal development district to approve the grant.

The former fire station, at the intersection of Main Street and Austin Avenue, has been vacant since the Brownwood Fire Department moved out in 2015 and relocated into a new fire station.

In June 2020, City Council members approved an agreement in which Common Ground owners Marco and Yesy Sandoval will lease the building with an option to buy. After renovation of the old fire station is completed, the Sandovals will move Common Grounds from its current location at 2208 Austin into the former fire station.

“Because of some of the delays with COVID, it’s taken a little bit longer, but they’re getting close to the finish line,” municipal development executive director Ray Tipton told council members.

“They’re striving to open sometime in September, hopefully.”

When the city and municipal development district started discussions with Common Grounds on putting the deal together, the municipal development district agreed to allocate funds to development the parking lot portion of the project.

At the time, the city estimated it would cost about $50,000 to create the parking lot adjacent to the building and the one across Booker Street.

Estimates for the parking lot were coming in at more than double what the city estimated because of price increases in construction materials. The municipal development district asked Common Grounds to get quotes for paving only a portion of the parking lot.

An updated verbal quote from Grider Paving is to pave a smaller area on Booker Street for $85,000, which would leave a small green space area adjacent to the Booker Street parking area.

In other action Tuesday, council members:

• Ratified municipal development district action to award a $6,000 Building Improvement Incentive Program grant to Glenda Packer for property at 408 Center.

Packer owns two buildings on Center Avenue, including 408 Center, which is being leased by Samantha Rodriguez Photography. The tenant has already made significant improvements on the interior, and Packer wants to improve the facade in the front and back of the building.

• Set public hearings at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 7 for the proposed tax rate for the 2021-'22 fiscal year. The proposed rate is $.7317, a 1.76 percent reduction from the current rate. The city's tax take will be increased by 2.5 percent.