Rockdale: Historic City Hall to be Sold as Commercial Redevelopment
Feature Photo (above): The Old City Hall as it existed in 2016, just prior to its retirement as a police station. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Rockdale (Milam County) — The city of Rockdale is seeking a developer that is willing to purchase and restore the Old City Hall.
A Request for Proposals was issued with the intent that the historic building exterior be restored to Secretary of the Interior Standards.
Located at 140 W. Cameron Avenue (U.S. Hwy 79), the building sale comes with an option to purchase an adjacent lot, 240 N. Burleson Street. This is a vacant lot behind the Old City Hall building that could be used for parking and/or some other function.
All proposals must include a business plan and the stated use of the redevelopment.
“While price is a consideration, it is the goal of the City of Rockdale to award the Property to the individual, group or corporation which provides the best overall proposal for development of this location, and best meets the goals of Rockdale Municipal Development District’s Downtown Master Plan,” the RFP states. “Proposer must submit a business plan detailing the intended use of this site, including a timeline, with response.”
The RFP was issued July 20 and a pre-proposal open house tour is scheduled for Aug. 3, beginning at 2 p.m. Proposals are due Aug. 27, 4 p.m. City Council wants to make an award decision by Sept. 14 and execute a sale or lease agreement by Sept. 21.
The Austin architectural firm Architexas prepared a report in 2018 that assessed the structural condition of the Old City Hall and includes recommendations.
The old Rockdale City Hall as it would have appeared in 1900.
The building was originally constructed during the period 1895-1899, but the building underwent major renovations and upgrades in 1939, the 1950s and in 1986 and does not resemble the 19th century structure.
Most city functions moved out of the building in the latter decades of the 20th century. The last municipal use occupying space is the police department and city jail. However, Rockdale recently completed construction on a new police station.
The Architexas report includes three restoration options.
Option 1 restores 7,161 square feet at a cost of $2,187,00 SF or $306/SF.
Option 2 restores 9,300 square feet at a cost of $3,455,000 ($372/SF).
Option 3 restores 9,300 square feet for $3,405,000 ($366/SF). All estimates do not include A/E fees, abatement, demolition or site work.
Architexas also submitted a proposed site plan based on a fine dining restaurant use for the first floor.
Architexas proposed site plan, first floor.
The exterior walls are load-bearing brick masonry that Architexas described as in good to fair condition. They are approximately 16-inches thick on the first floor and approximately 12-inches thick on the second floor. They are finished with a hard cement stucco on the exterior and plaster on the interior.
The front portion of the building is two stories while the rear portion is one story. They are separated by a brick masonry dividing wall that is approximately 16-inches thick. According to several newspaper articles from 1923 and 1939, the rear portion of the second story was torn away during the 1939 Alteration.
Some of the report recommendations for restoration discuss removal of the gable roof assemblies and the low slope roof assemblies; replacement of the asphaltic membrane roofing over the second floor with a fluid applied waterproofing membrane; removal of the emergency responders’ communications antenna and guy wires.
The wood windows must be restored as fully functioning and weathertight assemblies. The steel windows should be replaced with wood windows.
Other restoration or replacement issues mentioned include doors, plaster, brick masonry, flooring, and tile ceilings.
There are also ADA compliant issues to address, and significant changes to the landscaping.
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.