Redevelopment plans have been proposed at several downtown sites, from the historic Santa Fe train depot and Keystone Hotel to the Swain’s Lampasas Hardware building.
Depot owner Richard Hardin and Keystone Hotel owner Andy Fish – who also recently bought the hardware building at 302 S. Western Ave. – outlined their plans last Tuesday, when they spoke at a Courtyard Square Association meeting.
TRAIN DEPOT PROPOSAL
Hardin plans to develop the 3-acre depot property – located between East Second Street, South Live Oak Street and North Avenue – to bring in a restaurant and a microbrewery.
The businessman said he hopes to attract an eatery that would be a regional draw – like The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, southwest of Austin.
A microbrewery could make craft beverages – and possibly open a tasting room.
Hardin, an Austin resident who works in commercial real estate and also has done several historic restoration projects, plans to keep the restored train facility and add two new buildings that would match the style of the 1904 depot.
One of the buildings would house the restaurant, and the microbrewery would be located in the other new metal building, Hardin said. The metal and the pitch of the roof on each of the proposed new buildings will match the freight area on the north side of the former train depot, the property owner said.
Hardin also said he plans for his property to have entrances and parking in the rear, with buildings at the front of the property being close to the streets. That “zero lot line” style was common for urban developments in the time period when the red brick train depot was built.
Hardin has proposed an overhang on the new building along East Second Street so there will be shade for those who wish to dine or chat outdoors. The property owner also said he envisions insulated glass windows on the east face of the freight building. Hardin said he hopes to display an old railroad dining car that people could see as they look through the east windows.
He also plans to install landscaping on the Live Oak and East Second Street sides of the property. In addition, Hardin said he may work with the city to widen the sidewalks around the historic depot. The patio and some of the sidewalk area around the 115-yearold building feature red bricks that provide a unique look.
Hardin said he has owned the depot property for a dozen years or so, and over that time, he has drawn 15-20 different plans for potential redevelopment of the depot site. Hardin said based on the strength of the economy, now appears to be an opportune time to move forward with his latest plan. He said he hopes to begin the redevelopment by the end of this summer.
It should take four to six months to complete the site work and building shells, said Hardin, adding that he will be marketing the property to find good tenants to run potential businesses there.
PLANS FOR HARDWARE STORE
Around the corner from the train depot – at East Second Street and South Western Avenue – Fish is planning new uses for the building that has housed Swain's Lampasas Hardware.
The hardware store is closing, and Fish – who collects cars – said he plans to turn the central part of the building into a car museum.
“Most of them are Fordrelated, starting with Model T’s and bringing it forward all the way into some pretty interesting cars,” he said.
A 1959 Corvette also will be on display in the car museum, Fish said.
On one side of the building, he is considering creating a 1950s-style diner. It may serve breakfast and lunch, he said.
Fish also offered updates about his ongoing restoration of the historic Keystone Hotel on East Second Street.
Fish bought the former hotel in 2017 and plans to keep it primarily for private use – although he has taken people on tours of the historic building and opened it to the public for the Lampasas County Museum’s Tour of Homes last December.
“We are hopeful to actually be able to move in, at least in part of it, in June,” Fish said. “I know that sounds pretty optimistic, but the master suite is actually pretty darn close.”
Flooring should be installed in that room in about two weeks, and interior painting is very close to completion, Fish said.
The ballroom “looks absolutely stunning,” he said, and he added that the restoration in general has made significant progress in recent months.
“If you haven’t been in any time in the last two months, believe me, you won’t recognize it, because it is a totally different place,” Fish said. “And if you saw it before the homes tour, which was the first [weekend] of December, you definitely won’t recognize it.”
The historic restoration enthusiast said he and his family continue to “find secrets in there that have been hidden for years.” One of the latest finds, he said, was the fireplace in the original 1856 kitchen.
Fish said he is excited about plans for development in the downtown area. Property owners there, he said, are seeking to create destinations that will attract out-of-town visitors – and revenue from their purchases – without flooding Lampasas with crowds.
“We don’t want to have a Georgetown,” Fish said. “You don’t want to have a Fredericksburg. The things we are doing are taking the assets that you have and improving those, and making it a place where people want to go, visit, spend [their] money [and then] leave.”