Nearly a month after voters rejected a $217 million referendum to convert the Astrodome into an exhibition center, officials continue to wrestle with how to proceed on the iconic, but decaying stadium.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, a longtime dome supporter, told reporters at Tuesday's commissioners court session that the county remains willing to consider redevelopment plans from private investors. But as preparations gear up for the 2017 Super Bowl at nearby Reliant Stadium, time is of the essence — especially considering the vacant dome's annual $2 to $3 million maintenance costs.
He describes the project as a type of indoor park featuring man-made hills and bike paths.
During a public remarks period, area resident Brendan Cooney announced that he has a list of unnamed corporate sponsors ready with millions to turn the Astrodome into an exercise center . . . And he only needs four months to get the money.
"I'm here today seeking a 120-day option period to re-establish the relationships with the corporations that have shown an interest in this project from the beginning," he explained. "Once you give me approval, I will walk back through that door in 120 days with at least $100 million dollars."
Cooney, a realtor who calls his proposal Get Fit Houston, plans to transform the Astrodome into "a place where Houstonians can walk, jog, and ride their bicycles in comfort and safety."
While his presentation did not include renderings, he describes the project as a type of indoor park featuring man-made hills and bike paths. He also hopes the Houston Texans will use the space as a training facility to complement their practice and training center at the other end of Reliant Park. CultureMap was unable to reach Cooney for further details.
The Dome Today
As commissioners continue to hear proposals, workers will move forward on an $8 million cleanup effort to prepare the aging dome for either demolition or preservation. An ongoing asbestos abatement project will be completed by Sept. 2014, while, on Sunday night, demo crews will remove four concrete ramp towers added to stadium in the late 1980s.
Even after November's infamous "no" vote, interest in the dome remains at an all-time high according to Emmett, who has spend nearly a decade looking for viable redevelopment solutions.
"Communication with my office has been overwhelming in terms of 'Gee, do something to save the Astrodome,'" Emmett told KUHF. "And I'm going 'OK, we've been doing this for a long time.' "