County Approves First $10.5 Million for Astrodome Basement Parking Garage Plan

COUNTY APPROVES FIRST $10.5 MILLION FOR ASTRODOME BASEMENT PARKING GARAGE PLAN Proposed Astrodome Parking Garage PlansThe Harris County commissioner’s court voted this morning to approve the design phase of that plan to fill in the Astrodome’s below-grade levels with a 2-story parking garage. Mihir Zavari writes that today’s vote okayed the first tenth of the estimated $105 million cost, which the commissioners say will be split between hotel taxes, parking revenue, and the county’s general fund; Zavari notes that “the general fund component, around $30 million, is roughly equivalent to the amount the county estimates it would cost to demolish the Dome.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Image of Astrodome parking garage conversion plans: Harris County Engineering Department

25 Comment

  • the DA needs to investigate the county commissioners and kickbacks. first the ill-fated cruise terminal, and now this. how many parking spots are we getting? 2000 or so? That’s more than $50,000 per parking in spot in a location that is surrounded by a sea of surface parking. Some reporter should follow the money with this one.

  • This is a joke. What an unbelievable waste of money.

  • In the end, the most Houstony possible use for the Dome was selected: Parking lot, wholly contained within an unbroken sea of other parking lots.

  • I don’t understand the infatuation with parking in Houston. It’s like the older generation went through a crisis where parking was so scarce, it had a profound impact on the rest of their lives. I mean, there is already a SEA OF PARKING AROUND THE ASTRODOME. Well if parking saves the Astrodome, I guess I will have to live with it.

  • The NRG Complex now has a decent light rail system serving it. Why do we need another parking space out there? If fans would use the light rail it would reduce the need for parking there. If we are so flushed with money from all these taxes like hotels and parking, why not apply it to the Houston City deficit or fix the deplorable condition of roads and sidewalks in this city ? I think someone in the justice system needs to investigate how this decision can be legal after voters turned down a plan to redevelop the dome. It would seem that this new plan needs to be voted on again?

  • An election is coming. Vote these bums out!

  • Add me to the chorus of people who think the County judge and commissioners are willfully defying the people’s will on this issue. This plan doesn’t make economic sense unless it is personally benefiting the elected officials.
    We have plenty of parking already, there is a functional light rail system, and the Dome is in disrepair. Spend $50,000 to make a world-class scale model (and put it in the NRG stadium) so that those who want to have a trip down memory lane can visit it there. Then, get on with the $30 million demolition: one time expense.
    As an aside, the funds that are being squandered are County funds (not city of Houston) so Harris County cannot use it to plug the city’s pension problem. Don’t worry, though: each batch of politicians stays up late at night to come up with bigger and better ways to fritter away your tax dollars. (sarcasm)

  • Doesn’t HLSR own 48 acres of astroworld (1/2 the total plot) and I believe it was purchased for some $48MM. Who owns the other half?
    Why can’t the city or HLSR just plan to turn the astroworld lot into a giant parking lot with shuttles going over the freeway? Would cost a fraction of this astrodome debacle and not waste taxpayers money. You’d have far better & safer traffic flow utilizing both sides of the freeway.
    Is it because the massive for-profit companies that get to reap the rewards of public investment (HLSR & the Texans) here don’t actually need this extra parking and this is just an easy way to spend taxpayer funds without them having to worry about forking over cash to address their own issues in the future?
    You just know Emmett & friends are going to have some very sweet perks & placeholder job titles with HLSR when they finally give up their county seats.

  • On that note, who knows where to find the data on Reliant parking usage & capacity? I can’t think of a single annual event where there isn’t more than sufficient parking at Reliant.

  • Didn’t we have a vote to tear that down several years ago?

  • I think people are missing the larger view here. Of course there is plenty of current surface parking, but putting parking beneath the dome begins to open up the possibilities of densification on this site and on the old Astroworld site. This is the first, and necessary, step in transforming this entire area. I am betting that in 20 years or so this site will barely resemble the vast wasteland of parking lots and open space that it is today.

  • Did find this in a Texas Monthly article from earlier this month:
    “The property sold for a mere $77 million, a fraction of what Six Flags had hoped. Today, it is no more than a vacant lot occasionally used as Rodeo overflow parking. No mixed-use development materialized, even during one of Houston’s most feverish economic booms. All those dozens of acres of empty space went undeveloped, and the property seems likely to remain vacant for years to come now that the oil economy has gone bust again.”
    So HLSR already owns a ton of land for parking and can use it when needed. Why exactly are we supposed to spend $100MM for extra parking when we already have far excess parking capacity going unused. Yes HLSR is a private company, but these type of things can easily be rented and made usable for special events like a Superbowl at a fraction of the cost as a permanent investment. I’m just baffled at all this.

  • I think some of y’all are confused. We never voted to demolish the Astrodome, we just voted against renovating it. And the parking isn’t the focus of this $105 million dollar plan, just a side effect. The focus is to raise the floor and turn it into a usable space for events. The parking can help pay for that.

  • A parking garage in a sea of surface parking. Imagine how long it will take you to get out of there after an event. I guess you could always sleep in your car until the next days rodeo begins.

  • @Memebag, What exactly is the benefit of a raised floor in an un-renovated space unfit for public use? If voters have explicitly voted down renovating it, what’s the end goal if not trying to navigate around the voters wishes? I would also question what is the benefit of public expenditures for an event space that both public/private interests have been unable to find an economical use for after years and years of trying.

  • Bessi, no.
    We had a vote to turn it into (another) convention hall.
    It was mistakenly reported by pretty much everyone that a failure to pass would mean that the dome would be torn down. It was not.

  • @Memebag, it sure sounds like putting in underground parking, raising the floor, and converting it to exhibition space is renovating to me. And that is the question the voters decided not to favor.
    Better use to me would be implode the thing and build an amphitheater using some of the below ground space for the stage, then ramping up seats to ground level, and a lawn behind, like the CWM in The Woodlands. But that’s just me.

  • Terrific! There will be ample parking when we finally build the indoor ski mountain.

  • Nailed it @Memebag! Hopefully this is step one to getting the Astrodome back to a usable venue.

  • @ShadyHeighter & @Joel: If you want to demolish it, start getting signatures and put a demolition plan to a vote. So far people have voted not to renovate, but they haven’t voted to demolish, so it just sits there wasting space and money. I’d personally rather see the county commissioners try to do something with it until your plan is funded.

  • So you do agree this is a blatant run-around taxpayers knowledge / wishes then?

  • Voters voted against the issuance of new bonds to cover the costs of converting/rehabbing the Astrodome into a convention center (or anything else). Technically, the will of the people was not to issue new bonds/debt to pay for a conversion/rehab. This new plan is not issuing new county bonds/debt, so it does not need to be voted on by the people. It is, technically, not an end around of the will of people. We, as Harris County citizens, get to vote for our county commissioners to make spending decisions for us. If you don’t like the spending decisions your elected reps make, vote against them at the next election and lobby them until then.

  • @Joel: No. The taxpayers voted against issuing a bond for $217 million to turn it into a convention center.

  • why aren’t the Texans paying for this or more importantly why isn’t the Astorworld land being used instead? Why isn’t the dome going to become an inside theme park like mall of america. There’s already enough roof for parking in that area. Why don’t people start asking questions????

  • The vote was a proposal to renovate it for a very specific use, not to never renovate it for anything else, or to tear it down. I’m glad the dome is being put to use again.