The owner of the former Santa Fe train depot is contemplating redeveloping the property for business purposes, while also hoping to follow the aesthetic style of the historic downtown site.
Depot owner Richard Hardin, president of Austin-based Hardin Interests Inc., attended the Lampasas City Council meeting Monday to hear the outcome of votes about requests he submitted for his property. After the meeting, Hardin offered details about the development he is considering at his downtown property.
Hardin said he plans to add two metal buildings – possibly for a restaurant and a micro-brewery – at the property, which is between East Second Street, South Live Oak Street and East North Avenue. 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, Hardin 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. The red brick train depot was built in 1904, and such a “zero lot line” style was common for urban developments in that time period, he said.
The proposed metal buildings will have overhangs, Hardin said, and he plans to install landscaping on the Live Oak and East Second Street sides of the property. He also may work with the city, he said, to widen the sidewalks around the historic depot.
With those plans in mind, Hardin requested rezoning, as well as the abandonment of the north four feet of East Second Street right of way. The City Council approved both requests by unanimous votes.
By rezoning 2.18 acres from retail to Central Business District, the city will give the property more flexibility in the requirements for parking, building setbacks and aesthetics, Assistant City Secretary Becky Sims said. Those changes, she said, will help Hardin stay close to the style of the historic train depot building as he pursues redevelopment.
Abandonment of the portion of right of way is necessary because the train building and its brick patio wall encroach into the right of way, Sims said.
Hardin said in the last 10 years, he has looked at about a halfdozen different sketches of how he could redevelop his downtown property. As he considers the newest set of plans, he said he hopes to start construction by the end of this summer.
“Should take no more than four to six months to complete the site work and building shells,” Hardin said in a follow-up email. “I cannot predict how long it will take to find a good tenant, perhaps a year or more.”
Along with approving Hardin’s requests, the City Council also voted unanimously Monday for a different right of way abandonment – on what is described as East Deb Lynn from Willis Street to Rice Street.
T.J. Roberts, who owns 19.56 acres east of South Willis, requested abandonment of the right of way, where no public street has been developed. The abandonment will help with plans to build a single-family house, he said.
About two years ago, Roberts considered developing the property into multiple residential lots, but on Monday he said his plan now is to build just one house.
The portion of right of way to be abandoned was platted before a floodcontrol reservoir was created on the property Roberts now owns, he said. Because of the reservoir – which he said has a 50-foot-tall dam and contains water at least 20 feet deep – the city has little use for the East Deb Lynn right of way, Roberts said.
Although he eventually voted in favor of the abandonment, Councilman Robert McCauley initially objected. Officials have no idea exactly what will happen in the future, McCauley said, so he contended it would be unwise to abandon right of way the city might need at a later date.
Roberts said he does not think any utilities could go through the right of way, because it would be too expensive to install them there due to the reservoir.
Assistant City Manager Gary Cox said he does not think it would be feasible for the city to use the right of way. If water or sewer utilities were needed in that part of town, the city would try to use an alternate route to avoid the flood-control reservoir, Cox said.
The council approved the abandonment but, as City Manager Finley deGraffenried suggested, specified that the city will retain a utility access easement.
The Lampasas County Water Control and Improvements District No. 1, which oversees the flood-control dams around Lampasas, has its own easements to ensure access to the reservoir east of Willis Street, Cox said.