The Astrodome's received another powerful endorsement in the fight to keep the hulking, rotting Houston landmark standing.
The Urban Land Institute just released a report recommending unanimously that the Dome be given new life as "a grand civic space that communicates the can-do spirit of Texas, Harris County and Houston to the world." Specifically, the nationwide panel of land-use experts calls for the Astrodome to be converted into a multi-use indoor park.
"It's gratifying to me to see that even a large group of experts from all across the nation recognized the Astrodome as the unique and beloved asset that it is," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said in a statement upon the report's release.
The Land Institute's recommendations are extremely similar to the plan Emmett has already pushed for the Dome. The Harris County Commissioners Court will formally hear the ULI report at its next meeting on March 31.
T his is the surest sign yet that the Astrodome is likely to live on despite Harris County voters rejecting a plan to save it at the ballot box.
This is the surest sign yet that the Astrodome is likely to live on despite Harris County voters rejecting a plan to spend $217 million on saving it at the ballot box two years ago. The Urban Land Institute estimates that its recommendations will cost $243 million.
This plan would not necessarily ever have to go to the voters to be implemented.
Using the Astrodome and its new indoor park as part of Houston Texans pregame activities and featuring it during the Rodeo are also encouraged by the Land Institute. More parking is included in the plans (1,500 to 2,000 parking spaces in the Dome's lower levels). The perimeter of the Astrodome is also cited as fertile ground for commercial tenants.
Are you ready for an Astrodome restaurant?
It's likely much too late to implement these plans in time for the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston. The Land Institute projects a 2025 completion date.
Want to relive the great Astrodome debate? Read the contrasting viewpoints of my column on the need to tear down the Astrodome and preservationist James Glassman's plea to save what he calls "Houston's Eiffel Tower" at all costs.