During last night's meeting of the Big Spring City Council meeting, Brint Ryan, Big Spring native, with Caprock Holdings, gave a presentation on plans for the downtown plaza project, also known as "Reunion Park". This would be located in the area of Johnson Street between 3rd and 4th street, behind Hotel Settles in downtown Big Spring.
The project is estimated to cost approximately $4 million and is meant to be an attraction spot and outdoor venue for everything from outdoor music events and festivals to church services on Sunday morning. The City of Big Spring is asked to donate $1 million in cash and in-kind for the project. The project is expected to take 12 months.
It should be noted that this would be a privately owned park, meaning that Caprock Holdings would be responsible for the management of the property, including maintenance. The park would be open to the public a majority of the time but closed during private events.
Ryan advised Councilmembers that the next phase of development of Hotel Settles is to integrate the park with existing operations, and believed it would be a critical part of the revitalization of Big Spring. He went on to say that one project is not sufficient to revitalize downtown. The park is an important step to tie the city auditorium building, the city council chambers, and Hotel Settles together in a seamless outdoor venue. It will take 4-5 meaningful projects before Ryan thinks they’ll have critical mass for it to take off. The strategy is to create a destination with proper management and strong programming.
Ryan also spoke about the next phase of development for Hotel Settles - which is separate from Reunion Park. He stated that Caprock Holdings is currently in advanced discussions with West Texas Centers to relocate them to a fully renovated building - the old Big Spring Hospital, in exchange for their property next to Hotel Settles. Permission to do so was made possible by the Texas Legislature. According to Ryan, this would make a wonderful regional headquarters for WTC. The plan for the current WTC property next to the hotel would be renovated into a conference and event center that will be linked to the hotel. The WTC building would be restored and would include a canopy yard so that the event center and outdoor activities would integrate with Hotel Settles.
Additional projects in the works for Caprock Holdings in Big Spring include:
1.) Renovation of the old Read Hotel located at 2nd and Runnels. He anticipated completion within 12-18 months.
2.) Restoration of the Petroleum Building, near 1st and Main, in a style similar to Hotel Settles. The budget for this project is $10 million and is expected to restore the building at a National Register quality. It is approximately 25,000 sq. feet. Ryan advised that they are shovel-ready on the project, have obtained necessary approvals, and are now in the contracting phase.
Ryan told Councilmembers that the community needs good quality space for professionals for companies. The restoration of the Petroleum Building would offer a "Class-A space" and bring an opportunity to attract business headquarters.
3.) Old State National Bank building was also purchased by Caprock Holdings.
During Q & A with the council, it was noted that Caprock Holdings would not ask for tax abatements for the park project, and the property that is being donated in-kind and existing property will be on the tax roll.
Ultimately, Councilmembers authorized the Mayor to execute a development agreement with Caprock Holdings LLC. The vote was 5-2 with Councilmembers Nick Ornelas, District 1, and Diane Yanez, District 2 voting against.