The re-utilization of downtown Austin’s Seaholm Power Plant will happen. When? Not soon. Why? No $$$. No surprise.
However, at Wednesday evening’s Parks Commission meeting, CM Chris Riley shared the opportunity to adapt the Seaholm intake structure (which sits on the lake) into something usable and complimentary to the trail.
An ordinance passed in 1985 required facilities such as this, owned by the city, immediately become park land upon termination or cessation of their existing uses. Hence… PARD controls these buildings.
Furthermore, the 1987 Town Lake Park Comprehensive Plan states: “…the building south of W. First Street that houses the cooling water intake for the power plant is ideally situated for conversion to lakeside dining.” It goes on to suggest: “A water taxi stop will give additional access.”
OK, this is getting interesting, right?
PARD is strapped for cash, and PARD director Sarah Hensley is a progressive force. There is reason to be optimistic that something can happen here, and we’re not going to have to wait 10 years to see it realized.
According to CM Riley, the use should be contextual, and specifically cater to the myriad people using the trail. I understood this as concessionaires and open seating, rather than a proper restaurant as might be inferred from the plan. This makes sense, considering there is little/no room for additional parking here. Not a bad thing, IMO.
How can you help? Keep the discussion moving, and share the idea with your friends. Send a note to city council that you want to see these buildings put to public use.