Much has been said this week about the South Castell Avenue Master Plan and the potential mixed-use development it could bring to our downtown.
On Monday night, the city council and the New Braunfels Industrial Development Corp. played host to a public workshop in the council chambers at city hall, and on Tuesday afternoon, the city’s economic development foundation conducted business featuring a presentation highlighting the project.
Both were extremely well-attended and offered insight into how plans are progressing at this point.
The project centers on a 10-acre parcel that fronts Castell Avenue where the old city hall facility sits. It encompasses the former Chase Bank building and the Union Pacific Railroad yard and is bordered by Coll, Butcher and Wall streets. Garden Street runs through the middle of the property.
Monday’s meeting was the fourth such gathering used to collect input from individuals who have a major stake in the project: the citizens of New Braunfels. And, about 40 people shared their thoughts – pro or con – about the master plan and how it stands today.
What do we think? We like it.
We’re not saying we endorse everything or really anything that was presented on Monday and Tuesday. What we’re saying is that we fully support and like the concept of doing something worthwhile with the site that will benefit New Braunfels and its business district for decades to come.
We only have one downtown, and we only have one opportunity to redo this parcel correctly. Coming up with some kind of mixed-use plan makes very good sense, and properly planning for it makes the best sense.
The city needs to do something with the property, and bringing in a firm like Douglas Architects to put together a master plan that showcases possibilities is a good thing.
What will it look like when all is said and done? That is yet to be determined, and being yet to be determined is very important to remember.
We’re still planning.
We’re still at the very beginning of this process as there is much to do before any shovel turns over any dirt. Years of preparation still need to be done, and a final blueprint for the project is a long way out.
But, in the meantime, we applaud the city and NBIDC for having the foresight to get some ideas down on paper on how potentially best to redevelop the land and make it into a downtown attraction.
The land shouldn’t just continue to sit as is, and we think a project of this magnitude offers more benefits than downfalls.
Yes, our leaders need to find the balance that preserves our heritage and history, yet invites the ever-changing culture to continue to make New Braunfels an attractive place to visit and call home.
But, continued growth is coming, and New Braunfels no longer can be considered a quaint, little town. We’re bursting at the seams, and we need to accommodate and control that growth as best we can.
Our downtown is the heart of our city, and what we put there will determine how it beats today, tomorrow and beyond.
A properly managed master plan will help us find the best solution.