Dripping Springs Circulates Concept for a Town Center Development
Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange
by Adolfo Pesquera
Dripping Springs (Hays County) – The City of Dripping Springs is laying the groundwork for a Town Center that would coordinate the development of several new government buildings on or near the intersection of U.S. 290 and Mercer Street.
McCann Adams Studio prepared a preliminary concept for a master plan. Key components of the plan include:
Town Square: A square providing a western terminus to Mercer Street, shared by various community facilities, and serving as a civic focal point for public gatherings.
Streets: A network of tree-lined streets with sidewalks within a Town Center district, with a traffic signal at U.S. 290 and the extension of Creek Road north of U.S. 290; a realignment and extension of Mercer Street to form a roundabout at Creek Road; redesign and construct Old Fitzhugh Road (the north-south axis of the Town Center traffic plan; an extension of Parade Way to Creek Road.
Commercial Development: Approximately 25,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and upper level officer space in four to five buildings along the Mercer extension from the U.S. 290 frontage to better utilize the Mercer Street Historic District.
New City Hall: A municipal building of about 12,000 square feet at the western edge of the square. The City Hall project has an estimated cost of $2.5 million.
New Hays County Precinct Office: Adjoining the City Hall, either as a separate building or as a wing of the new City Hall Building, occupying about 2,500 square feet.
New Library: A two-story structure occupying a distinctive corner of the square, with an area of about 34,000 square feet. The library would include an outdoor open space in a courtyard that could be used for programmed events.
Dripping Springs ISD Offices: Adjoining the Library, there could be a DSISD administrative building with a day care facility in a two-story building of approximately 49,000 square feet.
Council Chambers: At the symbolic heart of the Town Center, and in proximity to the DSISD building, Library and City Hall, there would be a two- to three-story building totaling about 16,000 square feet that would be used by City Council and other civic bodies for meetings and conferences.
Shared Parking: Parking would be shared throughout the district. It is estimated peak demand would required 450 new parking spaces at an estimated cost of $150,000, which would be distributed along streets and driveways and in parking areas between the Town Center and Walnut Springs Elementary School.
Walnut Springs Elementary: Traffic circulation would be reconfigured for student pick-up/drop-off to expand queuing capacity, and the athletic track would be reconfigured and reduced, shifting it to the north and west. An additional 450 feet of trail would connect a new track to the Sportsplex Drive-Parade Way intersection.
Drainage and Water Quality: The elementary school campus detention pond would be enlarged to manage peak flow rates. New landscaping adjacent to the pond would include rain gardens, permeable pavement systems, rainwater harvesting to manage stormwater.
The build-out horizon for these TIRZ improvements will be market driven. It is anticipated that the completion of the infrastructure will take a minimum of five years, although some projects may start within the first two years, according to the TIRZ 2 final project plan.
The Preliminary Conceptual Plan was delivered Nov. 17. It had its genesis in a December 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the City, the TIRZ Board, DSISD and the Dripping Springs Community Library District. It was in December 2016 that the city also created two Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones to provide a layer of funding to help leverage additional funding sources for the Town Center and related improvements.
The stakeholders are in the process of evaluating the conceptual plan and are to make recommendations regarding its approval by Dec. 31, 2017.
On Dec. 5, the Hays County Commissions Court approved by resolution the submission of road improvements at U.S. 290 and Ranch Road 12 into the CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) Platinum Planning Study. Ranch Road 12 borders the eastern edge of the Mercer Street Historic District and improvements there would complement the Town Center concept. If the intersection is selected for a study, Hays County must pay a 20 percent match for its cost.
The corridor study would consider improvements at the intersection and along U.S. 290 and RR12 up to a half mile in each direction, and a Town Center centered on Mercer Street.
All the stakeholders currently occupy facilities that are outdated and undersized for current demands. The City Hall is located in a former church building of approximately 7,100 square feet and the City estimates a need to double its facility over the next decade to keep pace with expanding service needs.
The DSISD offices are in a 60-year-old former classroom and distributed among other school buildings. The facilities have been graded substandard and their rehabilitation would be costly.
The community library is in a 9,200-square-foot facility, less a third of the desired square footage. The library directs want a location where the library can play a more visible, integrated, commercially invigorating role in the life of the community.
Cost Estimates for TIRZ Projects in Town Center
$2,500,000 City Hall site acquisition & construction
$1,850,000 Old Fitzhugh Road
$5,400,000 Town Center Improvements (street, drainage, way finding, lighting, sidewalks, landscaping)
$ 500,000 Triangle/U.S. 290/RR12
$1,250,000 Benney Lane to Parade extension
$ 300,000 Garza Road ROW (acquisition & improvements to connect Mercer to Heritage subdivision)
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.